How the steel was tempered
In 1831, France was active in the fighting in North Africa, colonizing Algeria. Paris was in need of soldiers. And Louis Philippe I decided to put at the service of the crown numerous foreigners settled in the country: Italians, Swiss, Spaniards. And the French, who had trouble with the law. Officers recruited from the ranks of the former Napoleon's army. The creation of the Legion monarch killed two birds with one stone. On the one hand, we clean the country from unwanted elements. Have got efficient part, consisting of daredevils, ready on much for a second chance in life. A fundamentally important caveat: past a beginner nobody was interested in the service in the Legion he could wash away any sins and return to civilian life with a new identity and a sanitized biography. Was then laid the tradition of not asking recruits have a real name. Thus in the Royal decree originally stipulated the most important condition is Legion: may only be used outside of France.
In 1847 Algeria was finally subdued, but the services are battle-hardened Legionnaires were very popular. In 1854, the Legion participated in the Crimean war. Seven years later, France, Britain and Spain sent their expeditionary force into Mexico to force the country to resume payments on its international obligations. This campaign took place on the legendary "battle at Cameron". 65 Legionnaires under the command of captain Danjou took an unequal battle with two thousand Mexicans fought back for several hours. Amazed by the resilience of the defenders, the Mexicans asked them to lay down their arms and surrender. Legionnaires in response give the opponent the same. Almost all of them died, including the commander. Wooden prosthetic hand of captain Danjou is now kept in the Museum and is revered as a relic. The battle occurred on 30 April 1863. This is the day of military glory of the Legion.
The prosthetic hand of captain Danjou
Photo: Gerd Roth / Globallookpress.com
After Mexico, the legionaries defended French interests around the world: colonized Africa and Indochina, landed in Taiwan, participated in various conflicts in the middle East, the First and Second world wars. After the Second world war the legionaries had something to do, since France re-entered into the colonial wars, including in Vietnam. There is evidence that during this period, the compound was added to the former soldiers of the recently defeated Wehrmacht and SS — trained, with combat experience. To avoid accusations and suspicion of harboring former Nazis in the column "nationality" recruiters pointed out anything: Austrian, Swiss, Belgian and so on.
According to some sources, there was a time when former German soldiers were up to 65 percent of the personnel connection. It is impossible to verify, the Legion knows how to keep its secrets — its archives are closed. But in the ranks of the Legion fought and the recent Resistance fighters from France, Yugoslavia, Poland, former Soviet prisoners of war. This "international" participated in the famous battle at Dien bien Phu in spring 1954, when the victory was won by the Vietnamese. It is believed that in the grinder laid his head most of the former soldiers of the Third Reich. Nevertheless, since in the specific French language spoken by legionaries, has entered the command: Plus vite que schnell (faster than schnell — "quickly" — in German).
The tip of the spear
Enlisting the post-colonial era, Paris has not abandoned the habits firmly defend its interests outside the country. The main tool in this case is still the Foreign Legion, who has repeatedly been compared to the tip of the spear, slaying the enemies of France anywhere in the world. However, is dramatically different from the principles of recruitment of the connection. Contrary to popular view, now in the ranks of Legionnaires is almost impossible to get a man with a dark past, especially those who committed serious crimes against the person.
When you receive the service the recruit is obliged to provide reliable information that the security officer can check. If the recruit proved to be insincere, to say goodbye to him immediately. In addition, there is a tiered system interview, when the candidate asking the same questions but in different order. It also allows you to weed out unwanted applicants. Another important point is voluntary. If the person left training camp, it won't look for love can not be forced.
All this allows you to dial in units of the Legion of people checked, as a rule, with military training, had consciously made their choice. Every year on recruiting is attended by about 100 people, remain one. There is no accurate data but estimated the French sources, at the moment in the Legion serve 7,5-8 thousand soldiers and officers of the 150 nationalities.
Minesweeper Foreign Legion, Afghanistan, 2002
Photo: Natalie Behring-Chisholm / Getty Images
"Most of the missions now assigned to the Legion, can be considered sensitive, but this is not the RAID. Stories of trained thugs usually tell those who are in the Legion was not and these guys are not met. The foreign Legion is first and foremost a very disciplined military structure, for which the order — above all", — said "the Tape.ru" a source familiar with the French army.
"But the tasks that are put before the connection can be very sharp. For example, in 1978 in Kolwezi Zaire (now the democratic Republic of the Congo is approx. "Of the tape.ru") first threw the foreigners, they pulled out all the white. Risky jobs that are dangerous, but nothing she could not tell, — has explained "the Tape.ru". — If the need for military intervention, part of the Legion go there first and leave last. I believe that among the classic military formations, the Legion today is the most qualified and effective."
In the new environment
Foreign Legion performs different missions in hot spots in Iraq, Afghanistan, Mali. Sometimes is not only hidden, but is confirmed by international mandates. Such was the case with the operation "Serval" (Mali), which was attended by soldiers and officers of the second parachute regiment connection. The purpose of the mission is assistance to the government of the country in opposition to Islamist groups, as well as protection of several thousand French citizens living in Mali. Officially, the operation was completed in 2014, however, the French units left in the country in the framework of another mission under the code name "Dune". However, its implementation is assigned to other parts of the French army.
The soldiers of the Foreign Legion, Mali, 2013.Photo: Jeremy Lempin / Globallookpress.com
Much less is known about the French participation in the Libyan conflict. According to one source, in 2011 it was the men of the Foreign Legion played if not a decisive, important role in the defeat of forces loyal to former leader Muammar Gaddafi, killing several convoys under Benghazi. Others argue that if the French military was there at the time, it is likely that it was the special forces, unrelated to the Legion.
Anyway, but due to the fact that in the compound are mostly foreigners, the French authorities can always deny involvement in any particular operation, the citizens of the country. On the other hand, the official Paris knows that the given order is completed. Therefore, the Foreign Legion and continues to be one of the most important political instruments of the Fifth Republic.
Tags: armed forces , France