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Military personal development internship in New Caledonia

The personal development internship (DFHM internship) is compulsory for all French speaking first year students for a period of six months, either in the armed forces or a civilian organization, in France or abroad. Axel Levy is doing his military internship at the La Tontouta airbase in New Caledonia.

“It’s been two months that I am a trainee within the French Air Force at the La Tontouta airbase 186 in New Caledonia. Daily, 161 airmen are responsible for the maintenance of two Casa planes and three Puma helicopters in operational conditions. This moderate workforce and the January vivid sun give the airbase a friendly atmosphere.

I arrived on November 28th; my first week was dedicated to the understanding of the airbase structure. I ran an immersion within several units (protective squadron, transport squadron, rescue squadron). This first essential step enabled me to acquire some confidence within the airbase and facilitated the initial contact with every unit.

My position is affiliated to the Commandment Support Office, specialized unit in human resources and communication. Thus, my mission is to promote the base and to maintain relations with several civilian or military units, mainly Australian or New-Zealander. I am involved in the drafting of a “logbook” for example, a book retracing the major events of 2017 of the airbase. This mission, which requires conducting interviews of the workforce, is the opportunity to put myself in the shoes of a journalist, demonstrating as well versatility as interest.

Otherwise, I organize the visits of the external staff of the airbase. For example, I was responsible for the visit of other Ingénieur Polytechnicien students, also interns in New Caledonia, and I am glad I could offer them the possibility to fly on a Casa plane! Finally, one of the biggest missions assigned to me is the organization of an introductory military training of 34 young people willing to discover the airman’s profession.

On the airbase like on the whole island, goodwill is required. If the language does not really change my scenery, the local sympathy is particularly striking! Don’t be surprised if every person you come across greets you with a wide smile and a wave. Moreover, the landscapes’ variety, with a huge diversity of endemic and lush vegetation is to me an inexhaustible source of amazement. I get more and more used to these idyllic landscapes, I already dread the return to the harsh realities of the megapolis.

This experience in overseas territory is rich in lessons. In New Caledonia, the Kanak culture and European codes coexist in a sometimes precarious balance. I understand more than ever the cultural and strategic asset of France for its overseas territories. This internship raises my awareness about human and geopolitics topics".