OK, let's move past the French bashing and get back on topic. Actually, this idea is not a new one. It's been kicked around in military circles for years, but I doubt it's been given much official consideration. Still, it's an interesting topic, and might even be workable.
If I were tasked with creating an American Foreign Legion I would first hearken back to the roots of the French Foreign Legion, at least as far as recruitment were concerned. First of all, I would bar American citizens from joining the Legion. It would only be open to foreigners, but like the FFL and the Roman Legion, it would serve as a path to American citizenship. In fact, I would anticipate that this would be the major recruitment draw for the Legion. Foreign males aged 20-35 interested in joining the Legion would be directed to select U.S. embassies, where they would be screened and undergo a basic physical exam. If they pass they would then be granted a temporary visa to travel to a Legion processing center. To prevent desertion and fraud I would set it up in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or maybe someplace like Samoa (which has strong US military traditions) or Guam. The prospective recruits would undergo an intensive medical exam to screen for diseases and assess fitness for military duty, and would also undergo psychological testing to screen for emotional illnesses or criminal proclivity. Prospects that fail this screening would have their temporary visas cancelled and would have to catch the next flight home.
The next step would be basic training, which I would also have at a post somewhere outside the continental United States. The Legion would exist mainly as a rapid deployment light infantry force, and the training would reflect that. It would be physically rigorous, with a heavy emphasis on unit cohesion and discipline. After an initial infantry basic training period select Legionnaires would undergo skill specific training in fields such as communications, combat medicine, artillery, logistics, etc.
The officer cadre of the Legion would be provided by the US Army and Marine Corps, and at least initially, so would the NCO corps. As Legionnaires gained experience and tenure they would begin to fill the NCO ranks. Legionnaires wanting to become officers would have to serve their initial enlistments and then attend Army OCS schools before they could serve as officers in the Legion. Legionnaire officers would only be able to serve in the Foreign Legion.
The multi-national make up of the Legion would be problematic. The official language of the Legion would obviously be English, and English language training would be part of the Legionnaires basic training. As one might expect, the most likely recruits for such a unit would probably be Latin Americans, especially if there was a crackdown on illegal immigration in the United States. As such, it might make sense to organize regimental-sized Legion units comprised of Legionnaires from Latin American countries, with Spanish being a secondary language. I would also try to organize units with recruits drawn from Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East (in the latter case with Arabic as a secondary language). Legionnaires that serve an initial four year enlistment would be eligible for U.S. citizenship, and their immediate families would achieve permanent resident status.
As stated earlier, the American Foreign Legion would serve as a rapid deployment force, which means they would mostly serve as America?s foreign policy firemen??.putting out fires in hotspots overseas. If such a unit existed right now they would be patrolling the Afghan/Pakistani border, monitoring peace keeping efforts in Kosovo, or standing ready at a moment?s notice to intervene in places like Darfur, Sudan. I would allow Legionnaires to attend American military schools, such as airborne school, air assault school, or Ranger school, but I would bar Legion units from serving in any kind of military capacity in the United States other than training.
Damn. This idea is even starting to sound good to me, but I know that it would never happen. First of all, such a unit would be immediately decried by many critics of the US military, both foreign and domestic, as being exploitive, with the recruits being characterized as cannon fodder for imperialistic American ambitions. You would also expect official protests from many of the origin countries of the recruits, especially once they started suffering casualties. If a young American Legionnaire from Mexico, Lithuania, Bangladesh, or Senegal is killed in action while fighting pirates off the Horn of Africa you can well expect that the international media wouldn?t hesitate to show video of his family back in his village crying in anguish, and anti
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