Légion Étrangère (or The French Foreign Legion is a unique military unit within the French Army established in 1831 It is an elite rapid deployment force originally made up of foreign volunteers serving France.
The French Foreign Legion was created by Louis Philippe, then King of the French, on March 10, 1831, to support his war in Algeria. Successive legions were also raised to augment the French forces in the Crimean War, in the Franco-Austrian War and in Mexico.
Initially, the Legion proved to be an effective means for removing some of the more "undesirable" elements of 19th century French society, as its ranks were filled with cut-throats, run-aways, beggars, general criminals and unwanted immigrants. During its early period, the Legionnaire was very poorly trained and given only the most basic of equipment, clothing and food. The unit tended to be badly motivated - as their reasons for joining were desperation and self preservation rather than patriotism, as a Legionnaire would most likely be trying to escape from some grave problem. Living and working conditions were terrible, and their early campaigns were typically bloody affairs. As a result, desertion was traditionally a major problem for the Legion.
The task of forging a rag-tag band of poorly-motivated would-be warriors - from many different cultures - into an effective fighting force proved to be an immensely difficult undertaking. To accomplish this, the Legion quickly developed an incredibly austere code of discipline, far exceeding that of other contemporary units, including those of the regular French army. Read more...
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