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augustlan's avatar

Why was (is?) there a French Foreign Legion? Do other countries have anything similar?

Asked by augustlan (47376points) September 4th, 2011

What was the reason for starting it in the first place? Additionally, why were so many non-French people willing to join up and fight with/for another country? Have other countries ever used a similar fighting force? Is it still in existence?

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6 Answers

Lightlyseared's avatar

There still is a French Foreign Legion. It’s an elite unit and forms part of France’s special forces. It’s has recently seen action in the Gulf war and Afghanistan.

It came about after the French revolution which forbid foreigners from joining the French Army. The Foreign Legion was created as a way to get around this. The main purpose of the Foreign Legion was to deal with the large number foreign dissidents and mercanaries that had ended up in France during the revolution on either side. As the legion had a policy of anonymity every one joined under a pseudo name meaning it was an easy (well if you can call joining the army for 5 years easy) way for these dissidents to avoid be tried while providing France with some fighting power.

josie's avatar

They were the left flank in Desert Storm

RareDenver's avatar

The British Army still has the Gurkhas

Lightlyseared's avatar

@RareDenver so does the Indian Army, the Nepalese Army, the singapore police force and the sultan of brunei. If you want a large number of professional soldiers they are the guys to go to.

TexasDude's avatar

Spain has a Spanish Foreign Legion.

They aren’t as badass, but they have snazzy uniforms and they carry around a giant crucifix as part of their parades.

I love the FFL, though. They don’t fuck around. They march at half the speed of the rest of the French Military in their famous “slow march” and their engineer corps wears beards, leather aprons, and carries axes. Badass.

bea2345's avatar

I learned about the French Foreign Legion from the novel Beau Geste and its sequels by P.C. Wren. Would they be readable now, I wonder.

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