Skip to comments.So you’ve decided to run away and join the French Foreign Legion? Here’s how.
Posted on 12/08/2012 1:18:07 PM PST by DogByte6RER
So youve decided to run away and join the French Foreign Legion? Heres how.
It's Earth's version of taking the Black and heading for the Wall, the way Jon Snow does in Game of Thrones. Joining the French Foreign Legion granted men a safe haven for many for decades. But what does it actually take to join the French Foreign Legion?
Joining the Legion
The Foreign Legion, unfortunately, is portrayed in pop culture as packed mercenaries and vagrants even Jean-Claude Van Damme takes up the cause in one film.
A safe haven for men looking for a new start in life for two centuries, the French Foreign Legion continues to take in soldiers with a variety of backgrounds from all across the world. A little over 7,000 soldiers strong, the organization is currently dispatched in multinational military engagements as well as patrols in French-controlled territories.
You begin the process of joining the French Foreign Legion by stopping in at a recruiting center and passing a series of psychological and physical examinations. These centers, however, are only in mainland France, making for an expensive proposition for those overseas and looking to join.
Historically, the French Foreign Legion required new recruits to take on a new name for the first year of service. At the end of the first year, the member can take back their birth name or continue on under the pseudonym. Members sign an initial five-year contract, with the intention of earning French citizenship along the way.
Along with a their new name, the legionnaires receive a single item a rifle which is not to be left on the battlefield under any circumstance. To many within the Legion, this is a symbol of a primary tenet of their culture. Death in battle is far better than surrender.
Contrary to popular belief, the French Foreign Legion doesn't open its arms to murderers and escaped felons. It actually requires an extensive background check before a recruit is allowed to join. Members can begin the course to obtaining French citizenship after three years of service, but citizenship can be gained quicker in a grisly manner, by shedding blood in battle.
At then end of their initial five-year contract, legionnaires often continue on as a career soldier, with the armies of Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain often taking on off-contract legionnaires, or rising in the ranks of the Legion.
Who joins the French Foreign Legion?
The numbers of the French Foreign Legion have historically swollen in response to population disruptions. A large number of individuals with Polish and Jewish heritage joined in the early days of World War II, while former members of the German army found the French Foreign Legion at the conclusion of the war.
Today, the Legion is primarily made of men (no women are allowed to join) who are looking to change the trajectory of their lives drastically. Members are currently dispatched in Afghanistan and South America.
Modern legionnaires earn a stipend of roughly $1400 a month, in addition to food and lodging compensation on par with low-level members of the U.S. Military. All Legionnaires must communicate in French, which can pose a problem for some new recruits.
If you are looking for a major change (tired of being tied to a keyboard?), you can read a number of dedicated message boards on the subject of life in the Legion. Or check out the French Foreign Legion's site itself at Legion-recrute.com. It's "une nouvelle chance pour une nouvelle vie."
The most exposure I ever had to the French Foreign Legion was when I watched the classic film "Beau Geste" many years ago. Any FReepers with military experience ever serve around these legionnaires? Do they live up to their reputation? Thanks for the feedback.
Until Uncle Barack deploys you to Texas to wipe out the rabid secessionists.
I backed down a Legionnaire when I was spending time with the 13th RDP in France, when I felt that he was taking advantage of a much smaller NCO of the 13th, I have always regretted that it didn’t turn into an more interesting story, but it did go a long way to endear me with the 13th though, and it paid for my drinks that night.
I still have my application for the Legion, but what changed my mind was the 5 year enlistment, that was just too much of a commitment.
I actually seriously considered this after leaving the Army in the mid 70’s. I read a publication back then called Soldier Of Fortune, published by a guy named Robert K Brown (I think), it ran a few articles on the Legion. My wife did not like the idea. End of story
Huh? A large number of the posters to this thread will probably be veterans of the US Armed Forces who considered the Legion after they were already American vets. Their interest was in the uniqueness of the Legion, not what you think would be basically duplicating their American military service.
We should have responded with similar force when our consulate personnel came under fire.
General Schwarzkopf was made an honorary PFC in the Foreign Legion in 1991. During the presentation he was told if he ever runs into any trouble anywhere in the world, to give them a call.
I used to work with a lady whose Son was in the 101st Airborne.
I was talking to him about the invasion of Iraq. His outfit along with the French Foreign Legion operated together in a sweep way to the left of the main attack.
One of the amusing stories he told was they were all eating supper and the Americans noticed the French were about to have a regular feast. Their officer went over to the French and after talking a bit, they swapped meals.
The FFL had MRE’s and the Americans, the feast. He said the French actually liked the MRE’s.
Fighting for France is certainly "unique".But then so is trying to remove your own liver with a pair of pliers.I'd never give either activity a second's worth of consideration.
I ran away when I was a kid and joined the circus. I started out cleaning the animal cages and helping set up the tents and rings and so forth. After a couple of years, they let me sell popcorn and soft drinks. It was a pretty hard life. I usually slept in the straw in the horse trailer. I decided that I wasn’t going anywhere selling popcorn, so I started developing my own act. After a few years, I asked the circus owner if I could show him the act and he said OK. I had taken to picking up the stray cats that would hang around the circus. I had taught them some tricks and formed them into what I called STEVE AND THE ROYAL CATS OF RANGOON. Cats are natural circus performers. Well, the act consisted of the cats doing various gymnastic routines and we finished with a reenactment of Napoleon’s retreat from Russia. The owner was wowed. We did three years on tour with the circus and I saved every dime I made. After those three years, I had really become attached to the cats. They had provided entertainment to millions of people and given me a comfortable living. Some of the kitties were getting on in years and I could see that it was time to leave the big top. Well, the circus was in Louisiana, and I decided to retire the act there. I bought a small place and redid the house so every kitty had their own room. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I came to own a cat house in New Orleans.
They kicked some serious butt in Korea also.
Their commander was Raoul Magrin-Venerey better known by
his nom de guerre “Ralph Monclar”
He took the name to avoid German reprisals against his family during WWII
Supoosedly wounded 17 times
Check out list of decorations
That is two, really stupid posts in a row, that you have made
You are so clueless and uninterested in the legion, I don’t know why you are on this thread.
Rather than troll, why not just read other people’s posts.
A good and long history of the FFL:
Great movie...”I promise you”
Also a book on Dien Bien Phu which has a lot of FFL history (some still volunteering to parachute in after the battle was lost, but fighting still going on. )
My brother was in a large restaurant in Zaire and said that the Americans were treated well by the staff. Not so for the Legionaries. The staff ignored them. Tired of being snubbed one of them fired his machine gun in the air. The staff came quickly to take their orders.
Here is perhaps the greatest Legion battle in history, and it was right next door to us.
I celebrate it every April 30, having been introduced to it by some fine fellows in France.
“The Battle of Camarón (French : Bataille de Camerone) which occurred 30 April 1863 between the French Foreign Legion and the Mexican army, is regarded by the Legion as a defining moment in its history. A small infantry patrol led by Captain Jean Danjou, Lt Maudet and Lt Vilain, numbering 62 soldiers and three officers was attacked and besieged by a force that may have eventually reached 3,000 Mexican infantry and cavalry, and was forced to make a defensive stand at the nearby Hacienda Camarón, in Camarón de Tejeda, Veracruz, Mexico. The conduct of the defence ascribed to the Legion a certain mystiqueand Camarón became within Legion ranks synonymous with bravery and a fight-to-the-death.”
Unfortunately, Camarón is yet another example of how fine soldiers are put into ridiculous and unwinnable situations by stupid politicians (in this case, Napoleon III).
The trade with the French was 3 MREs for one french daily ration. They had only 6 types of daily meal boxes and they liked the 12 different 1st gen MREs. They got more variety, more calories and a more consistent meals. I only remember the mutton meal and the mutton was extremely gristly. I blame the supplier for the quality for I was told that it was hit or miss if it was good. The rest of the ration was good. I liked the daily soldier ration in this order: German, British, then French.
Here’s a question for you; what if an 18-year-old American citizen, property owner, voter, and registrant with the selective service left the United States and joined the French foreign Legion? Would he, at the end of his enlistment, be only a French citizen an American citizen or both a French and American citizen (dual citizen)?
I liked the Cognac, the full pack of smokes (20), and the cheeses and the Pate in the French rations.
My first one was the absolute best, until I was told that the box was for all three meals.
The soldiers were also allowed to fill their quart canteens with wine at that time, and carry them on their side, I don’t know if they can still do that.
There is a high desertion rate; violence is used very much in training.
If you are caught trying to desert, the punishment involves barbed wire (I think marching in a circle for a very long time wearing a heavy backpack load secured with barbed wire).
In the 1980s, the French ration came with a little bottle of Cognac, although it may have been brandy.
I would like to see the American military patterned more on the Legion in regards to pay, and the warrior climate and ethic.
Our young enlisted should be single men who only get paid enough to live a soldier’s life for the first couple of years, the wife, families, and good pay can come after reenlistment, or attaining Corporal rank, or since this is America, something close to that goal.
We do not need the first 2 years of enlistment ranks filled with overpaid privates, husbands, single moms, wives and mothers, needing family housing, daycare, pay add-ons, separate rations etc., gynecologists, pediatricians and all the other stuff.
It really says something about a country when its toughest military unit is made up of a bunch of foreigners.
You described exactly what it was like when I first enlisted. I believe my first pay, by the month, was about $65.00 and out of that had to come hair cuts, shaving stuff, shoe polish etc. The barracks were open bay with rows of bunk beds, each man had a narrow wall locker and a foot locker. Latrines had a row of toilets with no privacy dividers. You needed a pass to get off post. If you wanted a car you pooled your money with one or two others to buy an old used car. If you wanted to get married, you needed permission from the CO. You were treated like a second class worm.
Todays American would not tolerate such “abuse”.
In Vietnam there was more freedom and respect for all, which is why I think so many volunteered for extensions. Of note we kept loaded M-14’s with us at all times, at night either beside us or in a wall locker. This contrasts today’s army in that I’ve read Afghan soldiers are not always permitted ammunition, which is stupid beyond belief.
Probably dual citizenship, unless France gets into a rumble with USA while you are serving in the FFL, particularly as an NCO. Which, despite our disdain for each other, isn’t particularly likely.
Possibly France has a requirement that foreign citizenship be renounced in order to become a French citizen. Don’t know about that.