The French Foreign Legion recruits 1300 volunteers in 2021

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French Foreign Legion Kepi Blac Ceremony

The French Foreign Legion published this picture in October on its social media pages revealing the number of volunteers to recruit in 2021. The text above the poster says that the French Foreign Legion will need 1300 new legionnaires to arm the 6 regiments of the Land Task Forces and its 2 overseas regiments (3°REI and DLEM).

French Foreign Legion recruits
  • What’s exactly behind these numbers?
  • Does it mean that after finishing the 4 months long basic training in Castelnaudary, young legionnaires can directly leave to Mayotte or Guyana?
  • Which regiments of the French Foreign Legion recruit the most and least? Is it really 1300 places?

I’ll answer all these questions in this article

Recruitment in 2019 and 2020

In 2019, 1,245 young volunteers from 90 different countries signed up for their first contract in the French Foreign Legion. This number should have gone up to 1,750 in 2020. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the FFL recruited probably less new legionnaires than expected.

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2020 was a special year in the whole world and if the Legion can’t replace the Legionnaires recruited after the terrorist attacks in 2015, its global headcount going to decrease. Unless, the biggest part of the “Charlie Hebdo” generation signed a new contract. Since the 1300 recruits expected in 2021 is 25% less than the number of new legionnaires in 2016. It lets us think of two possible scenarios.

  • The French Foreign Legion manages to retain its members more successfully than ever before
  • Its headcount going to slowly decrease in the upcoming year

French Foreign Legion hiring plan in 2021

In 2021 only 1300 new members will be able to join the French Foreign Legion and become a legionnaire. It is 26% less than in 2020, but what does this number exactly mean?

Every year, somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 foreigner (and Frenchmen) pass the gates of the French Foreign Legion in a hope to join its ranks. These people attracted by adventure, surpassing oneself, better living conditions, the prestige of the institution and so many other reasons, but only 13-15% actually enlist.

The French Foreign Legion stays one of the most selective units of the French conventional forces. For the moment, it’s unpredictable how the lockdown will influence this stat next year.

Possible regiments to join

In the combat units the places to be filled are predetermined each year by the Human Resource Management of the French Foreign Legion (DRHLE).

They estimate that only 8 out of 10 selected candidates will actually join a regiment after finishing the basic training in Castelnaudary. So this number is going to be around 1,000 new legionnaires to divide between the 9 possible choices. These are 1°RE, 4°RE, 2°REI, 2°REP, 13°DBLE, 1°REG, 2°REG, 1°REC and 3°REI.

There is no place in Mayotte for those who are finishing the basic training in Castelnaudary
French Foreign Legion kepi

Returning ex-legionnaires

Another factor has to be taken into account and it’s that around 30 former legionnaires reenlist during the upcoming years after finishing their contract. If the Legion keeps the same scheme as last year, the repartition of the freshly trained legionnaires is going to be this:

Available places in the regiments

The repartition of places is going to give something very similar to this, when Legionnaires can finally choose their future regiment in 2021 at the end of their basic training:

Available places at the end of the basic training

Technically, there are some places available in 1°RE, but it’s mainly reserved for musicians or eventually for someone who definitely wants to work in an office. These people are usually French speakers, but I think most of those who are reading my blog aim the GCP of 2°REP than an office in Aubagne.

Places in 4°RE

Available places in 4°RE depend on how many older Legionnaires volunteer to change to Castel from the combat units. Do note, that in a normal case you can’t just choose 4°RE, but your commandment propose you if you were good enough during the basic training. Those who choose Castel will pass corporal within a short time and will stay to train new legionnaires during 8 months. From my point of view, it’s a waste of time. I had a friend who finished 3rd during the basic training, stayed in 4°RE and regretted until the end of his contract. Just to give you an idea, I’ll compare his career path to mine.

My choice of regiment

I chose to join 2°REG, did my basic engineer and mountain training, the radio course and came back from an OPEX at the end of my second year. I became corporal around 2,5 years.

During this time, my friend stayed in Castelnaudary, passed corporal and had to babysit two sections of new volunteers. For an unknown reason, he couldn’t choose his regiment once he finished his time in 4°RE and got sent to 1°REC.

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The regiment was moving from Orange to Carpiagne back those days. So finally he got demoralized, didn’t do a single deployment during his contract and left with 5 years. In the same time I became a radio specialist, deployed twice and got promoted to sergeant.

Some info & my opinion

4°RE is a great choice for Frenchmen who join the Legion for a quick career or eventually for older ones who manage to learn the language in a short time.

A last thing I didn’t write a lot about is 3°REI. My personal opinion is that there is no better place for a legionnaire than French Guyana. If you finish your basic training between June and September, you may have a chance to choose 3°REI.

French Foreign Legion Guyana
A Legionnaire in Guyane

As you can see in the table above there are not too many places available in Kourou and they will be divided between 10-12 promotions. It gives 3 places for a platoon.

The advantage in 3°REI is that you are almost ceaselessly doing your real job and you can also make a quite good money there. The jungle training is not only useful and interesting, but also exciting. The six months I passed in French Guyana was the best period I passed in the FFL.

For more information, dont hesitate to visit the official site of the French Foreign Legion

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    • Why do you only have a chance for 3.REI If you finish your basic training between June and September?

    • The “regiment” in Mayotte calls DLEM and units are sent there for 4 months from the whole French Army

  1. hello aron i am 18 years old, i pull 20 pull-ups i am doing 11 level luc luger, how likely are you to be selected?

  2. I’m 32 i like to join france foreign legion I’m healthy,strong, and well educated and wanna go in infantry regiment ,which regiment is better for me🙏

    • The first contract is for 5 years, but you can go up to 30 years if you’d like later

    • Unfortunately I can’t answer this question. The best would be to write directly to the official Instagram account of the Legion, they could provide you something more accurate than I would.

  3. Is 34 years of age still suitable to join and during the pandemic? I’m aiming for 2rep and I have previous military experience

  4. I’ve tried to send every Aussie who is a bit of a mess hoping to get rid of them; may i note they should go to a neurologist and check if they have the marker where they can withstand pain better than others as they will be chosen first…

  5. 1) I just want to ask is there an swimming test in army during recruitment??

    2). Is there running test in which we have to run as much as possible in 12 minutes??
    I am asking because I want to join. I can do everything but not swimming.

    Please answer the question.

    • Yes, there’s a swimming test since this COVID19 thing is over. You have to swim 50 meters without assistance

  6. I will not be able to go to Paris until next summer by then I will be 40 and 3 months old . But highly intelligent and very well read and bilingual English and Spanish . At 170 pounds 6’0 foot . Would I still have a chance .

    • Because that’s the period when the FFL sends people to long overseas missions. Sometimes you can also go to 3REI if you finish before June, but it’s rare. However, even in this situation you’ll have to wait until June to be able to go to 3REI.

  7. Hi, if you are married with a child and want to join at 38, what are my chances of getting selected? I am very fit and have an accounting degree.

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