French Foreign Legion - yesterday and today
The creation of the French Foreign Legion (la Legion etrangere) associated with the name of King Louis-Philippe I, which is March 9, 1831 signed a decree on the establishment of a single military unit, which was to include several existing regiments.
The main objective of the new formation was performing combat missions outside the French borders. For the implementation of the command officers were recruited from Napoleon's army, and soldiers have not only natives of Italy, Spain and Switzerland, but also French nationals, who have had some trouble with the law. Thus, the French government rid itself of potentially dangerous people, who not only had considerable combat experience, but also to take advantage of them in conditions of political instability in the state.
This policy was the king very logical. The fact that foreign players were preparing for a large-scale colonization of Algeria campaigns that require large numbers of troops. But at the same time, France could not send to Africa its subjects. That is why the Legion recruited foreigners living in the suburbs of Paris.
Around the same time period is the emergence of the tradition and do not ask the names of these new soldiers. Many desperate people had the opportunity to start a new life, freed from the criminal record.
To date, the Legion rules also allow for anonymous reception soldiers. As before the volunteers do not ask no name or country of residence. After a few years of service each legionary there is the possibility to obtain French citizenship and begin a brand new life with a new name. Throughout its history, the Legion was repeatedly on the brink of survival. Even King Louis-Philippe, who established it in 1831, tried to dissolve it in 7 years.
In 1960, he attempted unsuccessfully repeated the then President Charles de Gaulle: a few regiments of Legionnaires revolted against his decision to grant Algeria independence.
Fighting the way the Foreign Legion
It should be noted that the first rule of foreign players - never give up. This tradition was started in 1863, when three legionary held more than 2 thousands of well-armed soldiers of the Mexican army. But, taken as a prisoner because of his bravery and valor they soon were honorably released.
The soldiers-mercenaries shed blood in many regions of the world where the cracking at the seams and broke to pieces the French colonial empire. Indochina, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria ...
The military campaigns of the legionnaires were the backbone of the belligerent forces and suffered most casualties.
172 years of the formation has earned its reputation in the formal and not very French wars in the jungle and the desert. Units selected professionals were set up for instant transfer of troops to the conflict zone as soon as necessary.
But sending foreigners, as well as their fate, it did not cause too many questions in French society. Press Secretary of the Foreign Legion, Lieutenant Colonel Christian LAYOUT, insists that while France must be a military presence abroad, it will need a legion of foreigners since it is easier to send in a "hot spot" than his compatriots.
Major military operations, which were attended by the legionnaires:
Participation in storm Sebastopol (1853-1856) Protection of goods in Mexico (1863-1867)
The war for the French protectorate in Indochina (1883-1885)
The fight against the liberation movement in Madagascar (1895)
The First World War 1914-1918
Second World War 1939-45
The fight against the rebels in Zaire (1978)
The Persian Gulf, the capture of the Iraqi airport Al Salman (1991)
Peacekeeping actions in Mogadishu (Somalia), Bosnia (1992-1996)
Afghanistan and Mali
The Legion begins to speak in Russian, when things in Russia are really bad. Over the past century it has already managed to happen three times: in 1914, 1920 and 1993.
Reading the memoirs of veterans of the Legion and talking with today's legionnaires, you know that the ratio of the legion of the Russian people - this is not the attitude of the army, and the relation to France and the French. From the enthusiastic veneration, like General Zinovy Peshkov (brother of Yakov Sverdlov and adopted son of Maxim Gorky), to outright rejection, like a cavalryman Nicolas Matin, who served in North Africa in the same time as Peshkov.
Understand the difference in the perception of the Legion as a symbol of France in this pair of antipodes easy one - without rights in the Russian Empire, a Jew, voluntarily left the country, and France has recognized him as a hero and gave him everything, and the other - a Cossack officer in the Russian army, the White Guard "volunteers" , appeared on French service against their will, and at financial need.
The Foreign Legion served as the general of the French army Zinovy Peshkov A. Lieutenant-General Boris Hreschatitsky Rostislavovich, writer and anarchist Samuel Schwartzbard and future Minister of Defense of the USSR Marshal Malinovsky. As part of the 1st Cavalry Regiment of the Foreign Legion during the Second World War, he fought with the Germans in Africa Cossack poet "first wave" of emigration Nikolai Turoverov. Present the 1st Armored Regiment of the Legion was created in 1921, based on broken cavalry Wrangel army.
It is difficult to calculate precisely - until 1934 accurate records of recruits to the Legion was not conducted, but the number of comparisons in various sources shows that 32 thousand volunteers-foreigners who joined the Legion in World War I, about 4 thousand were the subjects of the Russian Empire.
"The third circulation" in the legion during the last century began after 1993. Then the command of the French Foreign Legion was forced to turn away many candidates simply because of their nationality - too many who want to serve France suddenly announced in the former USSR. Now they are much smaller, but this path, trodden Russian youth from Russia to Provence, overgrown with weeds, it seems, is not soon.
The Legion today
The French Foreign Legion - a unique elite military unit, part of the French armed forces. Today it has more than 8000 foreign players, who represent 136 countries of the world, including France. The same for all of them is a French service in a professional manner. Training of soldiers allowing them to conduct operations in jungle conditions, night-time. They are trained to carry out and special operation to neutralize the terrorists and rescue the hostages. The main task of foreign players today is to prevent hostilities. They are designed to carry out the evacuation of the population from the zone of hostilities, to provide humanitarian assistance, restore infrastructure in areas of natural disasters.
In this way, the French Foreign Legion sent to areas where France is seeking to protect its interests in the framework or "under the cover" of the European Union or the North Atlantic Alliance, as well as where there are certain historical obligations or threat to the life of French citizens.
Modern Foreign Legion consists of a tank, infantry and engineering units. Its structure consists of 7 regiments, including famous airborne with riot GCP, one special unit, and a demi-brigade one training regiment.
Legion units deployed in the Comoros (Mayotte Island), in the North-East Africa (Djibouti), Corsica, French Guiana (Kourou), as well as directly in France.
Legio Patria Nostra - Legion - our Motherland. This motto of the Foreign Legion best reflects its essence: a man of any nationality and from any country can enlist in a special unit of the French army, found here a new destiny and a new name. The first contract Legionnaire - 5 years, having served them, he is entitled to a French residence permit, and after 3 years of the second contract can become a citizen of France. Seventeen and a half years of service in the Legion guaranteed lifetime pension payable abroad. For all this Legion requires its soldiers ready to defend France's interests in every corner of the globe.
Foreign Legion long perceived as a community of comrades in captivity, belligerents throughout the world under the slogan "marches, or die!". It was said that 100 years ago deserters severely punished, burying them in the sand up to his neck and leaving alive to be devoured by predators.
But now, if Legionnaire made an attempt to jump, the first few days it is marked as "missing". There may be reasons why the Legionaries in the late part of, for example, after a night spent in the city. After seven days of absence he announced "a deserter." This entails the standard sentence - 40 days in jail (desertion from the war may entail imprisonment for two years in a French civilian jail after serving forty days in the Legion jail). If Legionnaire jumped weapons, search it will have a much more sinister form, involving a large number of people. Prospects for such a deserter not very pleasant ...
Features of the French Legion of is that it does not admit women, but many women members of the regular French army work in the legion in liaison departments. Contracts are awarded only to men aged 18-40 years. The initial contract is for 5 years. All the subsequent contracts can be concluded for periods ranging from six months to 10 years. In the first five years, you can achieve the rank of corporal, but the officer can only be a person with French nationality. The main structure of division officers - is, as a rule, professional soldiers who graduated from military academies and selected as a place of service legion.
Since in many countries around the world of mercenaries considered a criminal offense, the items are set, there exclusively in France. For all who want to join the legion being tested, which includes three stages: psychotechnical, physical and medical. In addition, separately with each recruit is interview, during which you must clearly and truthfully to tell his life story. The interview is conducted in three phases, and each new stage is a repetition of the previous one. Thus, the original check is carried out "for lice". Although the doors open recruitment points to everyone who turned out to be legal in France, but the tests and checks, which last up to a month, are few: according to statistics, only one in ten candidate becomes a legionnaire. The rest is waiting for a small severance package and a ticket to the city where the man turned to the recruiting center. By tradition, the Legion keeps secret identity. After the Second World War, most legionaries were the Germans, escaped the persecution in this way. Today the Germans in the Legion is almost gone.
Long gone are the days when the prisons and prison camps roamed the representatives of the Legion and offered to sign a contract: better than here to rot! There are no more fugitives who have chosen the air of freedom in the West, instead of stifling socialist camp ... No more queuing in front of the PPC recent "brothers in arms" from Eastern Europe, Russia and CIS, as in the recent 90 th. Today legionnaire become quite difficult: it needs to be born a soldier.
Now a large number of foreign players (about a third) - are from eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics. Another quarter - the South Americans. Many immigrants from former African and South Asian French colonies. There are also French, who got a new identity and written by citizens of other countries. Applicants must be foreign, but about 20% of foreign players - the French origin of the other French-speaking countries, such as Belgium.
We have Legionnaires cry: "Legion, to me!" Anyone who has served in the Legion knows it - a signal for help. Wherever he sounded - in the African desert, jungle or Asia whether in Marseilles bar footballer comes to the aid of his friend.
During the parade on July 14 on the Champs-Elysees all units come in several columns. All but one - the French Foreign Legion. Why? "Because - you will answer any footballer - that the Legion never split and always stays together!" The battle, in peace, in a bar fight legionnaires are always at the same time.
Although ethnic mishmash, the true spirit embodied in the motto "Legio Patria Nostra" ( "Our homeland - legion"), is as strong as ever.
When recently I asked a journalist on duty at the reception of his nationality, the puzzled look at him, and then said, "I - Legionnaire".
Volunteers Foreign Legion can be easily recognized by the white hats, however, it is worn only ordinary. Color divisions - green and red.