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A day of immersion at the military camp of La Courtine

From September 8 to 26, students of the 2019 class of the Ingénieur Polytechnicien Program participated in their personal development and military training at the military camp of La Courtine. Find what it is like to spend a day with them.

Du 8 au 26 septembre, les élèves de la promotion X2019 de l’École polytechnique effectuent leur formation militaire au camp de La Courtine

As the sun rises, the 2nd Company of Polytechnician students of the class X2019 gathers on the parachute jump zone of Les Féniers, near the military camp of La Courtine. After orienteering in the dark and a night under the tent, they are ready to receive their side cap, a piece of their military equipment which shall, as pointed by their Company Commander, Olivier Dumousseau, “forever remind them those moments spent together at La Courtine”.

Since September 1, the 560 students of the class X2019 have started their curriculum at École Polytechnique. Their first year being dedicated to personal development and military training, they devote, like their elders before them, the first weeks of their training to military classes. First with an induction week on the campus during which they meet their company members, learn military songs and close order drill. Then comes a condensed military training of three weeks at the military camp of La Courtine.

A military environment to develop leadership

At l’X, the military training addresses the notions of leadership and interpersonnal skills. “We seek to make them leaders able to manage a team”, says Olivier Dumousseau. A vision shared by Eric Richard, Commander in Chief of the class X2019 : “The military framework enables students to challenge their responsibility skills”.

Therefore, after the ceremony and an open-air breakfast, students of the 2nd Company split up into small groups for a full-day of workshops. 19 workshops, ranging from building a drop zone in hostile territory, to organizing the visit of the Chief of Staff to Tahiti, setting up a modular tent without instructions for use or building a shelter to protect against artillery fire. In each workshop, students work on developing decision-making methods, defining the tasks to be performed, prioritizing and assigning them according to each person's expertise in order to achieve the final objective. However, all the benefits of these exercises mainly come from the analysis of the activity and from self-analysis always done within a military framework. This was an opportunity for Eric Richard to address the students of one of the workshops and to mention Foch’s three Principles of War - freedom of action, economy of forces and concentration of efforts - and to remind them that “these are principles of war but are adapted to much broader contexts and, therefore, to management and leadership methods”.

Meanwhile, part of the 3rd Company tackles an obstacle course of 500 metres and 20 obstacles to overcome: a challenging sequence that requires to surpass oneself and draw on one’s resources. “The idea is to take them as high as possible, to confront them with the reality on the ground, their difficulties and those of others so that they are able to manage and adapt,” explains Captain Gregoire, the Company's Unit Commander.

A first step towards their personal development internship

However, military training also includes exercises essential to the operational preparation of a combatant. The 1st Company engaged in two of them that same afternoon: a shooting session with a Famas and a hand-to-hand combat session during which students learn how to move, stop, ground, palpate and use an electronic defence stick. Those are necessary knowledge as the students leave for six months of personnal development internship at the end of these four weeks of incorporation. While about a third of them will complete a civilian internship, the others will join the national gendarmerie, the DGA, the navy, the air force or the army. Among them, some will participate in Operation Sentinelle. The objectiveis, therefore, to provide them with all the keys to be able to evolve in patrol in complete autonomy.

At nightfall, while the 5th Company, gathering the international students, joined the rest of the class on the camp, the 4th Company is preparing to live its own experience of night orienteering : a few kilometres to cover with the help of a topographical map. When the entire company is back at the camp, it will be their turn to receive their own side cap.

>Have a look at all the photos of the military training of the class X2019