...I mean, I want to be pithy and all with this one...but it speaks for itself.
In the old days naval recruiters used to get young men drunk in bars, make them scrawl their signature on a bit of paper and next thing the young men knew they woke up not only with a hangover but aboard a ship.
Young men (and women) today spend less time in bars drinking and a lot of time in internet cafes and 11 million of them are pretending to be somebody else on Second Life. So, that's where the French Navy recruitment drive decided to go and get them, well, a few anyway. It's the first time a French armed force has used this kind of method to recruit: some say it's a world first but I couldn't guarantee that.
From 29 November to 4 December a virtual frigate (which looks remarkably like the yet-to-be-built Franco-Italian FREMM) called in on Second Life which could be visited 24 hours a day and where youngsters could meet virtual sailors who would answer questions about the jobs and careers they might have if they joined the Navy. A competition was also held, first prize being a day aboard a frigate, a real one this time!
Aboard the virtual frigate visitors were given virtual red pompoms (traditionally worn on the hat, the pompom, I learnt the other day, was designed to provide additional protection for the head which, as everyone whose been aboard a ship knows, frequently gets knocked) , could see films, visit an exhibition, hold daily chats with naval pilots, submariners, combat divers but also go up to the command deck for more serious discussions.
OK, so my whole impression of France in the national security realm has changed with the election of Sarkozy. But after this little story, I think I'm going back to calling them "freedom fries."
Read more about how you can join the French Navy from our Aviation Week friends on Military.com