Please explain this picture

They’re from the French Foreign Legion.

Looks like some bearded guys in uniforms carrying axes. What don’t you understand about it?

They’re lumberjacks, and they’re OK?

Well, they’re Legionaires, and from what little I know of them, they don’t get to hew at that many things with an ax, often being deployed in some arid or semi-arid place in Africa. When I visited the site (it was in French) it showed them wearing some kind of leather work apron, so this unit must represent a specific function. What it is, I can’t imagine.

When they first joined, it was the Sahara Forest.

Bwa! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

You’ve heard of pageantry right? It’s pretty obvious that’s what your pic is showing. I doubt functionality has much to do with it, though I’m sure the axes have some kind of symbolic significance, if that’s what you’re asking.

Foreign Legion Pioneers.

Well, that’s… sort of an explanation, I guess. They sure look pretty silly, though. Not that I would tell them that to their faces.

Aaaanndd there you have it. Thanks, MB. For a while I thought the Dope would fail me. :rolleyes:


Sorry, edit function got weird on me.

Anyway, the Dope never fails.

It’s already been explained why these men are marching with axes and leather aprons. The picture itself was taken during a parade on the Champs-Élysées on Bastille Day 2014:

Ceremonial traditions often look odd (the Household Cavalry in the UK always have two riders in the rear carrying shiny axes, from the days when a horse claimed to be dead and requiring replacement and compensation - rather than just quietly sold off on the side - had to be shown to be dead, by producing a severed hoof), but that’s rather the point. The functional rationale is historical; the current everyday reality would just be a bit banal (and when it comes to the military, maybe a bit too realistically close to home).

You know, this story sounds so much weirder if you stop reading it at this point.

Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd ai-mênu!

three… two… one… BWA! HA! HA! HA! HA!

Darn it, I’m still snivelling. And knock off time still 15 minutes away!

Pioneers or Sappers in most European-centric forces = combat engineers in the US Army and Marine Corps, although US Army infantry combat engineers are called Sappers again apparently.

Sappers historically were the troops who drove “Saps”, or trenches toward the enemy fortifications in order to get guns and mortars within range. As you can imagine, this was a somewhat specialized and hazardous job.

And for whatever reason, the beards and axes are a sapper/pioneer thing, not a Legion thing; the British Army has a position called “Pioneer Sergeant”, and so do a lot of other Commonwealth forces. (here’s another photo) And if you watch the 2004 John Lee Hancock movie “The Alamo”, if you pay attention, you’ll see the Mexican sappers advance in a few shots- complete with beards and axes.

The Legion sappers are just more prominent- I think there’s one guy per regiment in the British Army, while the Legion has a whole bunch of them, and they lead the parades, so they’re very obvious.

Is this where the expression “ass hats” originated?

Or is it “axe hats”?

I’m very confused.

Prospects looked grim for the annual Sadie Hawkins Day Parade due to the passage of some startlingly strict open carry laws, until one of the new recruits had a clever idea and headed to the local hardware store…