Video: The Foreign Legion, another French exception

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Video: The Foreign Legion, another French exception 5
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Shrouded in mystery and prestige, the French Foreign Legion is just as feared by its enemies as it is envied by its allies. The legionnaires come from across the world, prepared to fight for a country that is not even their own. In the Legion, they learn to fight in extreme conditions, live together and work as a team. But who are these soldiers and what motivates them? While embedded with the 13th Half-Brigade of the Foreign Legion in Mali, our reporters found out.
“The Legion is our home” is the motto of the Foreign Legion, the legendary elite branch of the French Army. Africans, Americans, Asians, Europeans, anyone between 17 and 40 years old can sign up to fight for France.
The Legion was formed in 1831 and, to this day, inspires fascination. From the very start, it earned a reputation for being an army made up of wanted criminals. Today though, the Legion says entry is forbidden to anyone linked to violent crimes, sexual assault or drug-trafficking.
However, the Legion still gives a chance to those who want to leave their pasts behind, earn a living and serve in an army with one of the best reputations in the world.
Only one in five hopefuls makes it through the notoriously tough selection tests and once they’re in, the Legionnaires have to agree to a strict set of rules if they are to stay in. They’re punished if they fail to learn French and misunderstand orders.
Claire Paccalin and Fanny Allard followed the 13th Half-Brigade of the Foreign Legion at their French base and during a counter-terrorism operation in Mali.
They spent six days camping out in the desert near the border with Niger to find out how the Legion works and what motivates these men to fight for a country that is not their own.
Maxime, an 18-year-old Belgian, told them why he quit a carpentry apprenticeship to join the Legion. They spoke to Brandon, an American who drives his comrades crazy by playing country music at the barracks. Then there's Sergeant Giacomo, who started out camera-shy but later opened up about being a Legionnaire.

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💬 Comments on the video

Vive la france, vive la legion etrangere.

Author — How to do shit channel


I'm a former FFL officer, I served 8 years with the 1st Foreign Cavalry (1er REC), including the first Gulf War, Africa and Bosnia. Glad to share a few facts about the Legion.

It is important to understand first that the French Military is a very old institution, set as a professional force during the Middle Age, with core values coming from the code du chevalier (“knight’s code”), the Monarchy, Napoleon’s era, colonial empire and the decolonization period, WW1&2 etc. As a result, traditions, corps, missions and commitments are very diverse.

For centuries, it has been a tradition in France to hire foreign volunteers in specific regiments within the Army framework. French Kings always had foreign troops to their service, usually coming from loyal or controlled vassal states or principalities (Swiss, German, Italian, Belgium etc). The Republic has simply maintained the tradition.

Almost all officers (90%) of the Légion Etrangére (LE) are French, mostly from Saint-Cyr, except a small proportion coming from the ranks.

The Legion is made of foreigners, is under regular Army command, with the same equipment and organization. The Legion is not a special force or a militia. It is an elite corps of the French Army with different people and adapted rule of procedure. Within the Army, there is a strong competition between the Legion and the Marines (Troupe de Marine, or “Coloniale” in French, which also belongs to Army).

Regiments of the Legion are sprat among three Brigades of the Army: the 6th Light Armored Brigade (2nd REI, 1st REC, 1st REG and recently 13th DBLE back from Abu Dhabi), the 11th Parachute Brigade (2nd REP), the 27th Alpine Brigade (2nd REG) and overseas deployment (3rd REI in Guyana and DLEM in Mayotte island). An initial training Regiment (4th RE) and a small administrative and recruitment unit (1st RE) are directly under the command of the Foreign Legion Command (COMLE), headed by a Brigadier or Major General, simply nicknamed “Père Légion” (Father of the Legion…), who reports directly to the Army Chief of Staff

Legionnaires are ABSOLUTELY NOT mercenaries; they don't fight for money (monthly wage, the "solde", is the same as in the Army), or for ideology, not even for French citizenship, which is difficult to get, unless you are wounded in combat (Français par le sang versé, “French by spilled blood”). They are volunteers under contract, to serve France, a country they hardly know, but they fight for the Legion: the motto is “the Legion is our fatherland” – Legio Patria Nostra in Latin. The Legion offers them a new start, a new identity, a family, with rules, discipline, limits and even a future. Contracting with the Legion does not imply to abandon your first nationality.

Around 140 different nationalities are represented in this nearly 9000 strong force. On purpose, around 25% are francophone of even French origin but enlisted under a different nationality. All NCOs are from the ranks. Those highly professional NCOs are the true strength of the Legion. Few become officers. Women are not permitted.

“Honneur et Fidélité” (honor & loyalty) are fundamental values when regular Army motto is “Honneur et Patrie”. A Legionnaire serves with HONOR, and is LOYAL to the Legion.

In the Legion, traditions are very important, numerous and highly respected. They evolve slowly but regularly and are listed in the Recueil des traditions de la Légion Etrangère, set by a special committee. They include a specific uniform (with the famous Képi Blanc), the Boudin marching song (“We shall soon all perish according to tradition…”), the Code of Honor, slow pace marching and many, many more.

Criminals are not accepted anymore, and there is a very serious and long check on each candidate, with Interpol assistance. Selection is very harsh, as there are up to 9 candidates for one “seat”, probably the highest rate worldwide for a conventional military force.

The main strength of the Legion is its unique cohesion, based on people from different culture and background but under French military rule, all ready to start a new life and to fight for their new family: their comrades in arms from the Legion.

Selection, training and equipment are important, but they would not make the difference without tradition and this “esprit de corps melting-pot”, which is unique to the Légion Etrangère.

Vive la Légion !
(long life to the Legion !)

Author — shpontz


Wow à lot of french bashing made by haters and ignorant People who doesn t know anything about France military

Author — Riviere Marc


I have 17 months left in the British Military and once I'm finished here, I'm going to join the Legion.

Author — Lee Count



Great report. I would love to see more videos like this in the future.

Author — Kron Hertz


"The wake-up call is brutal..."
*calmly ties laces in complete silence*

Author — King Raven


I've realized I've learned more history lessons watching YouTube and reading comment sections then I actually have learned in school.

Author — Andrew Shuster


I want join FFL but get France visa verry hard for Nepalese... Higher costs for visa iam a middle class family.... So for me hard but i do hard work and collect I join FFL .... That's my dream..

Author — Roshan Thakur


I served in Australian Special Forces (Commando)...the other force I admire and respect most is the Legion...tough fighters who look after their own and follow a great military ethic...long live the Legion! 👍👍👍🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺

Author — Bob Mitchell


The French Night Watch

Respect guys 💪

Author — Kami Attack


''You're Croatian, you don't know country music''
lmao as a non-American country music lover I loved that part

Author — Commander Shepard


"When the terrorist sees the foreign legion, he does not sing anymore."

Author — jardin de la fontaine


Fighting for the French colonial empire

Author — Pold the only


Met some french soldiers in Africa. They are insane. Hope I cant meet some FFL

Author — Thomas Bond


The 82. Airborne Division was not able to intervene in Kolwesi 1978, as Europeans has been slaughter by Tiger Rebels. The French Foreign Legion (Airborne Regiment 2. REP) was. And the Legionnaires conducted one of the best and most efficient military operation the world ever has seen: OPERATION BONITE - Vive la Legion. Vive les 2. REP ...

Author — Thomas Gast


Yo who saw that Chinese legionnaire chilling in the car, he was about to fall asleep lol

Author — Thot Officer #69


Love how he shakes her hand at the end - keeping it gangsta

Author — Andres Cordero


The Legionnaire's Code of Honor is the Legion's creed, recited in French only. Vive la France ! Bravo les gars !

Author — Ray J.


Very interesting that someone from my home state of Tennessee traveled half way around the world and ends up with the FFL. Wow!

Author — Rocky Mountain hermit


This unit saw some very fierce combat about a month or so after this video was filmed. Sadly there were miltiple wounded, but luckily no legionnaires were lost. They won the day after a hard fought battle and should be commended.

Author — w alex