Trivia 010: The Fighting Foreigners

I’ve seen some news articles recently about the Ukrainian International Legion – volunteers from around the world who have traveled to Ukraine to help defend it against the Russians. By most of the accounts I read, about 20,000 people have already joined. It is a little strange to think about fighting for a country you might barely know. However, this practice used to be more common in the past. Fighting in a nation’s army was something you might do out of suport for their cause, or just because you sought to be a citizen of that country. Joining the army was usually a good way to earn citizenship for yourself. And another country’s army was a good place to hide, if you needed to get away from your home for some reason.

Perhaps the most famous army unit to join was the French Foreign Legion. There have been many stories written about characters running away to join the French Foreign Legion. And it is still something you can do today! In fact, as of 2018 the Foreign Legion represented about 8% of the military of France. Regarded as a highly skilled fighting force, they have been deployed in operations around the world.

According to their website, in order to apply, you must fulfill a (relatively small) list of requirements:

So, if you fit all these requirements, all you have to do is travel to France and knock on the door of one of their recruitment centers (open 24/7/365). After fulfilling a few mental, physical, and medical tests, you might be accepted into their ranks. If you manage to impress the recruitment committee enough to join, you can look forward to a fully paid career as a legionnaire. After three years of service, you can apply for French citizenship. After completing your full 5-year contract you will be granted it.

The French Foreign Legion is also still a place you can go if you’re seeking to lose your old identity. If you enlist in the Legion, you will be provided with a nom de guerre – a false identity, including a new name. All candidates will receive a new identity, no matter where they came from or why they joined the Legion. After one year, you can apply to get your real identity back and serve under your original name.

As a result of drawing recruits from all around the world, the French Foreign Legion focuses heavily on instilling an esprit de corps to bond the soldiers who may not speak the same language as each other. The Foreign Legion is also the only part of the French military that swears allegiance to the Legion, not to France.

The Legion is regarded as a highly skilled fighting force. They have been deployed in operations around the world. They are primarily stationed in Metropolitan France, with some regiments overseas in France’s remaining territories.

So if you want to get away from it all, and Kokomo just isn’t far enough, perhaps consider a life of adventure in the French Foreign Legion.


We made it to the double digits! And the triple digits are now only ninety weeks away. When I first started this newsletter, I debated on how many digits to make the numbering. Given that it’ll take me about 19 years to require three digits, I think that this is enough for now.

If you know anyone who would like to receive these, please have them send an email to [email protected] And if you no longer want be recruited into the French military, let me know and I can take you off the list.

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