Modern French Army on parade.

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Modern French Army on parade.

Post  buistR on Sun 21 Sep 2014, 6:45 pm

Attached is an example of the mixture of uniform styles favored by the modern French Army for parade. This contrasts with (for example) the British convention of having all troops involved in a given ceremonial appear in the same order of dress (full dress, No 1 dress, No 2 dress etc). Though of course even the Brits usually let any corps or divisional band present appear in their scarlet, blue or green full dress regardless of what the rest of the parade is wearing.

The French photo shows the not very glamorous but essential Administration Corps parading its flag. The figures in black tunics and red skirts or trousers are officer cadets for the corps (not Saint Cyr) in grande tenue. The generals and staff officers at the back are in tenue terre de France (literally land of France dress). This light beige uniform was introduced with some fanfare in 1981 to replace the khaki service dress worn since WWII. It was intended to be "practical, modern, simple and elegant" and possibly the officers' model shown achieved that. However the different other ranks version (similar in general outline to the old British battledress) managed to appear only cheap and nasty and is now infrequently seen. The usual French practice is to parade in standard camouflage dress (thus being economical) but to dress it up with a variety of traditional items (thus being distinctive). The Foreign Legion, as always a rule unto themselves, do wear tenue terre de France for both off-duty and parade purposes, but having higher standards of spit and polish than the ordinary French soldier manage to make it look quite smart.  

In the case of d'Administration these extras include a blue/black kepi with silver insignia, of a style dating from the 1930s and worn by all ranks; white wool epaulettes with long fringes, of a style dating from the 19th century; and medium blue waist sashes. This last item is currently worn in blue or red by those modern French regiments having an African history (Foreign Legion, Spahis, Tirailleurs and a few Marine Infantry and Artillery units). It was never part of the historic Administration uniform though and one must assume that someone in the Corps just liked the look of it. The sashes in question, unlike British stable belts, are very long and required the help of a colleague to put on. He would hold one end while the wearer twirled around until all was in place and could be held there by a belt.

The reason for blacking out the faces of the figures in the modern French photo is not clear. Administration personnel would not usually need the same anonymity as say Intelligence staff. However these days who can tell.


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Modern French Army on parade

Post  wfrad on Sun 21 Sep 2014, 8:34 pm

I don't know why the French military insist on using the old waist sash, haven't they heard of Velcro?
When cost seems to be a main priority these days, wouldn't having a shorter sash be cheaper and certainly easier to wear?
In my opinion, which isn't worth much, the tradition of dressing up battle dress didn't seem too bad in the past when the battle dress was quite plain.
However I feel that dressing up the modern camouflage dress just doesn't quite have the same effect and looks a little bit Gilbert and Sullivan.
Maybe blacking out the faces could also have something to do with some new EU privacy law, it's amazing what our betters can come up with to enhance our lives.


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