French Foreign Legion’s Training Strategies Under Fire ss Officers Stand Trial for Avalanche Deaths


Lawyers accuse the renowned elite force of “[lacking] humanity”, after forcing a group of 52 trainees to conduct a dangerous exercise on a mountainside – on top of the six deaths, seven were seriously injured. 

The French Foreign Legion’s notoriously vicious military training strategies will be scrutinised in a Lyon court, as four officers and junior officers stand trial for manslaughter over the death of six recruits in an avalanche in January 2016.

In preparation for deployment in West Africa, the recruits were ordered to enter an area of mountainside in Valfrejus, Savoie, with sealskins, skis and rescue equipment. The uneven terrain was treacherous and weather conditions risky, on top of the exercise being conducted at an altitude of 2,600 metres.

After some hours, witnesses describe hearing a terrible cracking sound, and a cry of “Avalanche!”.

​An official investigation found an expedition on the mountainside required extreme vigilance and knowledge of the terrain, which neither the recruits nor trainers seemingly possessed. The trial, which begins 10th October, will examine whether the officers failed to consult local mountain experts, gendarmes and weather forecasters.

Jean-Michel Quillardet, a lawyer for a Ukrainian soldier injured in the catastrophe, said the recruits were pushed to the absolute limit, while the most senior members of the unit weren’t on the march but instead involved in administrative tasks many kilometres…

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