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French Army

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Big French joke.

Famous for terrorist actions against peace protestors in New Zealand.

Also famous for losing, surrendering and stabbing their allies in the back. Also big on kicking Algerians when they're down.

See also FuckFrance

Napoleonic French Army

The same French Army that destroyed the Russians, Prussians and Austrians at Austerlitz, Jena, Auerstadt, Marengo and Borodino (although by 1812 much of the Le Grande Army was made up of Germans, Prussians and Austrians).

They even fcuked us at Corunna (mind you, Wellington came along then and we never lost a battle after that: Talavera, Vitoria, Salamanca, Quatre Bras and Waterloo).

The secret was that Napoleon's army was the first citizen army in the world: after 1789, the revolutionaries had discovered Conscription, which meant that they had so many men they could afford to mask fortresses no-one was meant to be able to bypass and still outnumber their enemies. It was a sort of 18th century 3rd Shock Army.

Unfortunately, by 1812 their generals were mostly overlooking the innovations that had made them so effective and replaced it with numbers. As a result even when they won, they were still getting a shoeing.

World War 1

During the First World War, they weren't half bad either, winning the battles of the Marne, Verdun, and Second Marne despite, on the way, having one of the most disastrously hopeless generals ever (Nivelle), suffering over one million casualties, and recovering from the largest mutiny in history.

World War 2

Bizarrely, despite their perfomance in WW1, they still have a reputation for cowardice in English-speaking countries. This is probably due to their disastrous 1940 campaign, in which really stupid doctrine, strategy and tactics contributed to a German army with fewer tanks overrunning the entire country. Still, the few Frogs who got away fought one of the classic last-ditch defences on the British 8th Army's southern flank at Bir Hacheim.

Indo-China

After the second world war, the French army's next stop was a colonial war against the Viet Minh, which they lost despite yet another desperate last-ditch defence, this time at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. (with Verdun, Bir Hacheim and DBP on their battle honours, desperate last-ditch defence is something of a speciality)

North Africa

Hardly had they quit Vietnam than another bit of the empire went missing, Algeria. Although they sent 1 million men and tortured pretty much anyone they didn't like, in the end the guerrillas won and by 1962 the game was up. Unfortunately many of the army's elite paratroop and French Foreign Legion units wouldn't admit it, and spent the early sixties attempting coups against De Gaulle's government. Many of the most distinguished French officers therefore ended up in prison as traitors.

Modern Day

Since then, the French Army has maintained a policy of having no wars except in sub-saharan Africa. Shooting at unarmed crowds in Cote d'Ivoire (allegedly, although I've seen the video and it seems to be real enough) seems to be a particular favourite French military pastime, even whilst criticising the Americans for shooting wounded and potentially still dangerous insurgents at around the same time.

With the recent (end 2005) racial hostilities in most major French cities, it looked like the next set of battle honours for the french army was going to be the urban pacification of their own cities ... however the civilian CRS (french riot police) came through with battle honours of one man killed; 5,873 cars torched; 1,500 people arrested; 17 people sentenced and 120 police and firefighters injured (as at 8th Nov 2005 - then we lost count). With a new round of rioting about to start (nov 2006) ... last years full stats for comparason were 9,193 cars burnt, 2,921 arrests, 21 nights of riots. Seconds out ... round 2!