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French Foreign Legion - General Information

The French Foreign Legion (French: Légion étrangère) is a unique unit separate from the regular French Army, established in 1831. The legion was specifically created as a unit for foreign volunteers, to be commanded by French officers; it is however also open to French citizens, who amount to 24% of recruits. After the July Revolution of 1830, foreigners were forbidden to enlist in the French Army. The Legion was also seen as a convenient way to dispose of numerous recently-displaced foreign nationals (many of whom were thought to hold revolutionary political beliefs) by sending them to Algeria to fight in the French campaign of colonialization.

The Legion was primarily used to protect and expand the French colonial empire during the 19th century, but it also fought in all French wars including the Franco-Prussian War and both World Wars.

The Foreign Legion has remained an important part of the French Army. It has survived three Republics, one empire, two World Wars, the rise and fall of mass conscript armies, the dismantling of the French colonial empire and the French loss of the legion's birthplace, Algeria.

The French Foreign Legion is known as an elite military unit whose training focuses not only on traditional military skills but also on its strong esprit de corps. As its men come from different countries with different cultures, this is a widely accepted solution to strengthen them enough to work as a team. Consequently, training is often described as not only physically challenging, but also extremely psychologically stressful.

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