“Patriotism is not put forward that much by the candidates”

“Patriotism is not put forward that much by the candidates”
“Patriotism is not put forward that much by the candidates”

International context? Revival of patriotism? What makes young people run to the ranks of the army? 20 minutes went to the South-West recruitment and selection group, at the Nansouty barracks in Bordeaux, to meet these young people who are between 18 and 20 years old and who want to become soldiers.

For Mattéo, it’s a real “life project.” » Originally from the north of France, he “moved around a lot” in his life, “notably in the West Indies with a military father-in-law”, which left him with excellent memories, “then in Angoulême. » After studying marketing and commerce, he decided to take the plunge and get involved. “It shines through in me, I have this passion” he tells us, exhilarated.

Julie arrives from La Rochelle. She decided to stop her studies for the army, “because it was a childhood dream” and she “could not see herself spending her life sitting on a chair. » “They are all soldiers in the family,” she explains. One day, when my dad came back from Chad, I told him that I would do like him. I want to see different things, to go on a mission. » For this, Julie targets “intelligence, or infantry. »

“The international context, everyone takes it into account”

And patriotism in all this? “I am very patriotic,” assures Julie. I feel that I owe something to France. » The same goes for this young woman from Toulouse, who wants to become a pilot. “I like the discipline, and serving my country too,” she assures. Are the international context, the conflicts which are multiplying almost everywhere, worrying? “No,” continues the latter, “the fact that we can protect our country more motivates me even a little more. » “The international context, everyone takes it into account,” assures Jonathan, 19 years old. I’m keeping an eye on it, but it’s not a particular motivation. What interests me is being able to travel and help others. »

“Patriotism is not put forward that much by candidates who want to enter the army,” assures Lieutenant-Colonel Gérald, head of the information and evaluation department. There are some who express it, there are some who probably have it in their hearts without being aware of it, but it is not the primary motivation of young people. It’s something that they will acquire, the meaning of which they will understand little by little, but not at the start. »

As for the international context, “we are not feeling the effects either” assures the officer, “although there were some after the attacks in Paris. » “The attacks of 2015 had a considerable impact on the number of candidates with the desire to defend their country. This affected them much more closely, they had the impression that their way of life was threatened, whereas what is happening in Ukraine or the Middle East, ultimately, for them, is far away. »

“Above all, they are looking for a job that takes them out of routine”

“The international context is rarely discussed during the interviews” confirms Major Mehdi, who administers the psychotechnical tests. “Above all, they are looking for a job that takes them out of routine, beyond self-improvement, cohesion, equality, and for some even financial stability. The patriotism side comes out a little, but it is above all group work, mutual aid that they want. »

Generally speaking, candidates “tell us that they need to be guided, that they need to be put back on the right path, or even that they are looking for a family,” continues the lieutenant-colonel. “We have many young people from broken or recomposed families who feel a lack in their lives. They are usually looking for belonging to something bigger than themselves. I also have older, qualified candidates who are fairly well established in professional life, but who are looking for meaning in their profession. »

The age range for entering the army starts at 17 and a half years old, and goes up to 31 years old for certain officer applications.

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