As teased in my previous post, here is a fun anecdote from my first deployment as an French army infantry platoon leader.
First a bit of context. This was pre-2015 terror attacks. The vigipirate operations was a routine deployment for all French army units. You would get send in somewhere in France for 2 weeks. Soldiers would patrol train station/airports/subway stations by teams of 3 while the squad leader/platoon leader/platoon sergeant would man the radio in a usually windowless ready room. In case of emergency the squad leader/platoon leader/platoon sergeant was suppose to take charge and coordinate between army/EMS/police etc.
But nothing happened during my deployment. There were 2 major types of events that the patrol had to deal with, passengers not feeling well and abandoned luggage (look-up “gad elmaleh – terrorisme” on youtube for a fun take on the situation if you know a bit of French).
Abandoned luggage was a plague to deal with. Any one of them had to be treated as potential ied. Therefore, when a patrol would stumble upon one, protocol would dictate to :
- Wait a minute to see if someone comes to pick it up.
- If no one comes, radio the station security center to report. An announcement would be done over the PA system to ask if someone is missing a bag.
- While the announcement is broadcasted, the police would be radioed in to send the bomb squad to investigate and the patrol would set-up a perimeter with signaling tape.
- Since abandoned luggage was 99% false alarm, the police would usually send 1 guy to investigate and call in the big guns if it is confirmed to be an IED.
In our case it was again a false alarm. So step 5 for the police is to search the luggage to see if they can identify the owner. What was told to me is usually to send the luggage owner the bill that closing a platform, readying a bomb squad and sending an EOD officer to investigate racks up.
(don't sweat over opsec, this is more than 10 years ago and SOP's have since drastically evolved after 2015)
Anyways, my patrol reports an abandoned luggage and follows procedure. And while the police officer is looking through the bag, he pulls out a BIG DILDO from it ! Beige, full with dick and balls, with a succion cup at the end. That triggered a brilliant idea in the patrol’s team leader’s mind. He asked the police officer if he could keep the… object. He puts it in his bag and take down the security perimeter. All clear is sent via radio. We all get back to go on with our day.
End of day comes. We get back to our barracks and the caporal-chef (OR-5) who was leading the patrol is laughing his ass off, showing everyone his ‘prise de guerre’. We decided to hang it over the door frame of the platoon ‘popote’ (makeshift bar/break room that any French unit is setting up wherever they are setting camp).
The thing is, French army tradition dictates that anyone entering a ‘popote’ is to salute the room regardless of rank present. This means that for the rest of the rotation, every evening, everyone entering our popote would salute under the big dangling beige dildo. All our platoon members new under what they were saluting, and were doing so with a smile. But any outsiders making a visit would first be puzzled by the grins on our face upon their arrival… and then either laugh or turn red upon understanding what they were standing under.
“are you just happy to see me or is it the big dick dangling over me that makes you smile?”
EDIT: for those who do not speak French but would like to understand the Gad Elmaleh skit, he jokes about the fact that the French government thought that the best way to fight terror attacks at the time was to ducktape trash cans in train stations and places where you leave your luggage in train cars, playing a sad terrorist reporting back to his cell that he could not plant the bomb because vigipirate had ducktaped everything.
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