French Foreign Legion Composition
Previously, the Légion was not stationed in mainland France except in wartime. Until 1962, the Legion headquarters were located in Sidi-Bel-Abbès, Algeria. Nowadays, some units of the Légion are in Corsica or overseas possessions, while the rest are in the south of mainland France. Current headquarters are in Aubagne, France, just outside Marseille.
There are nine regiments and one independent sub-unit :
- Mainland France
- 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment (1e REC), based in Orange (armoured troops),
- 1st Foreign Regiment (1e RE), based in Aubagne (legion headquarters),
- 2nd Foreign Infantry Regiment (2e REI), based in Nîmes,
- 4th Foreign Regiment (4e RE), based in Castelnaudary (training);
- 1st Foreign Engineer Regiment (1e REG), based in Laudun;
- 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment (2e REG), based in St Christol;
- 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment (2e REP), based in Calvi, Corsica;
- French Overseas Territories and Overseas Collectives,
- 3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment (3e REI), based in French Guiana,
- Foreign Legion Detachment in Mayotte (DLEM);
- 13th Foreign Legion Demi-Brigade (13 DBLE), based in Djibouti.
Disbanded unit and attempted coup
The 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment (1e Régiment Étranger Parachutiste, 1e REP) was established in 1955 during the Algerian War and disbanded in April 1961 as the entire regiment rose against the French government of Charles de Gaulle (Algiers Putsch), in protest against moves to negotiate an end to the Algerian War.
Following Algerian Independence in 1962, the Legion was reduced in numbers but not disbanded like most other units comprising the Armée d’Afrique: Zouaves, Tirailleurs, Meharistes, Harkis, Goums, Chasseurs d’Afrique and all but one of the Spahi regiments). The intention seems to have been to retain the Foreign Legion as a professional force which could be used for military interventions outside France and not involve the politically unpopular use of French conscripts. The subsequent abolition of conscription in France in 2001 and the creation of an entirely professional army might be expected to put the Legion’s long-term future at risk, and indeed when Paris contributed a 2,000-strong contingent to the U.N. force in Lebanon in 2006, it included only 200 Legion engineers.
These deployments are current as of December 2008:
Note: English names for countries or territories are in parentheses.
- Opérations extérieures (other than at home bases or on standard duties)
- Guyane (French Guiana) Mission de presence sur l’Oyapok – Protection – 3e REI Protection CSG ; 2e REP / CEA; 2e REI / 4° compagnie
- Afghanistan Intervention 1e REC / 3° escadron (1 peloton); 2e REI / 4° compagnie OMLT; 2e REG / 1ère compagnie
- Mayotte (Departmental Collectivity of Mayotte) Prevention DLEM Mission de souveraineté
- Djibouti Prevention 13 DBLE; 1e REC / 1° escadron; 1e REG / 3° compagnie
- Gabon Prevention 2e REP / 3° compagnie – 4° compagnie
Units Acronym French Name English Meaning CEA Compagnie d’éclairage et d’appuis Reconnaissance and Support Company CAC Compagnie anti-char Anti-Tank Company UCL Unité de commandement et de logistique Unit of Command and Logistics EMT État-major tactique Tactical Command Post NEDEX Neutralisation des explosifs Neutralization and Destruction of Explosives OMLT Operational Monitoring and Liaison Team (The official name for this branch is in English)