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).
- 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
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:
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:
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.
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