The American Foreign Legion?

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Glocksman
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The American Foreign Legion?

Post by Glocksman » 2003-04-07 01:11am

After reading about the Guatemalan who was posthumously granted US citizenship, I started to wonder if the USA should start its' own version of the French Foreign Legion.


After a web search for the concept, I found this column by SOF publisher Robert K. Brown that explains the concept better than I can.
A Dirty Little Corps For Dirty Little Wars

By Robert K. Brown


American foreign policy that requires the projection of military power is being held captive by the specter of fuzzy-cheeked American boys coming home in body bags. This specter has caused America to hesitate sending ground forces into Kosovo, when decisive action might have saved untold Kosovar lives.

American angst over using its military in a potentially bloody ground war to achieve foreign policy goals is a relatively new, and disturbing, trend. For most of the past 200 years, Americans have not viewed war with favor, but have nonetheless never hesitated to commit our sons to terrible battles - from San Juan Hill, Verdun, Normandy and Tarawa to Pork Chop Hill and Khe Sahn. America always exhibited the commitment and courage to fight for right. But those days are no more.

Only President George Bush's political acumen combined with popular, brilliant military commanders convinced America to set aside its fears and get the job done in the Gulf War - and it was a war with clear goals that we were sure we would ultimately achieve.

Winning the Cold War left America as the only superpower, but perplexingly, increasingly uncomfortable in that role when conflicts broke out in Africa and the Balkans over long-standing ethnic, racial and religious differences.

Today we are on the verge of a war we are not prepared to fight, capable of fighting immediately, or willing to fight. Our legislators are just not prepared to field calls from soccer moms across the nation if things go wrong and planes of body bags start flying into Dover Air Force Base.

We have an Army that is tough and capable. What we need is an army that is tough, capable and expendable: A force of young, single, hard, healthy, superbly trained and equipped men with linguistic and cross-cultural skills that would be useful in foreign climes. A force that can be committed to battle for the duration. Spirited armies of "grunts" led by our best professionals, with little logistical tail and no requirement to defend and explain in detail its plans and tactics - and who have no constituency of soccer moms who would force a change in foreign policy.

Where do we find this army? We find it where the French found their Foreign Legion and the British found their Gurkas - abroad.

I first suggested this idea in an article I commissioned Col. David Hackworth (America's most highly decorated living soldier) to write for Soldier of Fortune magazine in 1994 - and it remains a viable alternative in light of our current predicament.

We need an American Expeditionary Force (AEF) modeled after the French Foreign Legion or the British Gurkas.

We need a force where all the grunts are graduates of a fierce and rigorous selection and training program, but then well-paid and equipped with the best we have to offer in materiel, leadership and support. An army that trains, lives, goes to war together and stays together to the end and beyond - win or lose. And men who are rewarded with the option of citizenship and a respectable pension at the end of their honorable service. There are tens of thousand of just such candidates in hundreds of places who would jump at the chance to fight for America.

In short order we could recruit and train three divisions (for the Americas, Mediterranean and Pacific) like that. There are still enough soldiers around either in or out of current forces who remember how it was done, to stock the force with noncommissioned officers (NCOs) and officers through its early days to instill what it takes to win - and how to win.

American NCOs and officers, who would form the leadership cadre initially, should be pulled from our best forces - Rangers, Special Forces, Marines and SEALs - and like Abraham Lincoln, our political leaders should search long and hard for battalion, brigade and division commanders who understand the purpose of war: winning. We need hardened warriors, not careerists with their hearts set on a soft chair in front of a button-filled console at the Pentagon.

Permanently stationed abroad, the AEF would be available on short notice for long-term deployment to places that today bring chills to the hearts of thousands of American mothers and fathers. Consider what a resource a well-trained, professionally led AEF division whose CNN-filmed body bags would not cause a change in foreign policy or public support would be.

Pundits today like to say America is the last major power, the last empire. While we may not want that, we should learn to live with it and act accordingly.

Every great nation that found itself in America's position - from Rome to France to England - has eventually looked outward to find fighters to handle their unfashionable wars. Roman Auxiliaries, French Legionnaires and British Gurkas contributed greatly in their time and hold a hallowed place in military history.

An American Expeditionary Force could as well.

Robert K. Brown is publisher of Soldier of Fortune magazine.
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Post by weemadando » 2003-04-07 01:16am

Riiiiight.

This is sounding pretty fucking ridiculous.

The Foreign Legion has one fucking hard arse rep worldwide and a very strong espirit-de-corps.

The gurkha's are just plain bad-arse, hell, many of those who are turned down a position with them commit suicide so strong is the prevailing warrior culture.

This sounds like a way for the US military to avoid getting bad headlines at home when they lose people in the field. The problem lies with your culture, not with your military.

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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2003-04-07 01:20am

I dislike the idea of creating specific divisions for it. However, I think we should augment our current military forces by offering admittance into the country beyond the current quota system for anyone who wishes to join the military, with citizenship for that person after a suitably long enlistment. Such service arrangements could be made at a border crossing, port, or foreign embassy or consulate.
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Post by Stormbringer » 2003-04-07 01:23am

Not a bad idea really when you consider the increasing squeemishness of the American public. So long as we keep a real military force capable of fighting to back it up.

The problem I see with this though is the same as the Romans. The danger is that the US would become dependent of them for their fighting and refuse to actually use our military. When you can't fight for yourself you become dangerously weak.

It's not a bad idea but I think ultimately it's not necessary. The US has never been one to send it's sons, and these days daughters, to die for no purpose. Prying apart all these stupid ethnic, religious, and tribal wars is a waste of lives and we've learned from Vietnam that it isn't always worth it nor necessary to do so.
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Post by Sea Skimmer » 2003-04-07 01:27am

I don't see a need, and I don't like the idea very much. I'd rather see the US Military's manpower problems dealt with by paying them a fuckload more as they deserve.
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Post by Glocksman » 2003-04-07 01:27am

This sounds like a way for the US military to avoid getting bad headlines at home when they lose people in the field.
Of course it is. Brown says as much when he states that a Foreign Legion would not have a "constituency of soccer moms who would force a change in foreign policy"

Every great nation that found itself in America's position - from Rome to France to England - has eventually looked outward to find fighters to handle their unfashionable wars. Roman Auxiliaries, French Legionnaires and British Gurkas contributed greatly in their time and hold a hallowed place in military history


An American Expeditionary Force could as well.
Perhaps he's right, perhaps not.
But I do think it is something we should look at.
"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."- General Sir Charles Napier

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Post by Joe » 2003-04-07 01:32am

Not a bad idea really when you consider the increasing squeemishness of the American public. So long as we keep a real military force capable of fighting to back it up.
I would say that the squeamishness of the American public is on the decline, if anything; that's not to say we're ready for Vietnam level deathtolls, but since 9/11 I think Americans have been a little more willing to accept casualties as the consequence of the war on terrorism.

When you think about it, the American public has been extremely reluctant about sending troops to die since Vietnam, and Black Hawk Down only reinforced this reluctance. I think 9/11 changed this.
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Post by Sam Or I » 2003-04-07 01:33am

Stormbringer wrote:Not a bad idea really when you consider the increasing squeemishness of the American public. So long as we keep a real military force capable of fighting to back it up.

The problem I see with this though is the same as the Romans. The danger is that the US would become dependent of them for their fighting and refuse to actually use our military. When you can't fight for yourself you become dangerously weak.

It's not a bad idea but I think ultimately it's not necessary. The US has never been one to send it's sons, and these days daughters, to die for no purpose. Prying apart all these stupid ethnic, religious, and tribal wars is a waste of lives and we've learned from Vietnam that it isn't always worth it nor necessary to do so.
Hmmmmmm then we would become like the french?

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Post by Stormbringer » 2003-04-07 01:44am

Durran Korr wrote:I would say that the squeamishness of the American public is on the decline, if anything; that's not to say we're ready for Vietnam level deathtolls, but since 9/11 I think Americans have been a little more willing to accept casualties as the consequence of the war on terrorism.

When you think about it, the American public has been extremely reluctant about sending troops to die since Vietnam, and Black Hawk Down only reinforced this reluctance. I think 9/11 changed this.
There's a difference between Afghanistan or even Iraq and say Kosovo. We have a good and supportable reason for these wars and the American public will back that; we always have backed just wars.

That is the difference, the American public is no more in favor of deaths in wars such as Kosovo than we were after Vietnam. This is what the AEF would be for. Dirty, nasty wars that'll rack up plenty of casualties to little clear benefit. It's been hard to support those kind of wars and even more so after Vietnam.
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Post by Rubberanvil » 2003-04-07 04:31am

The Duchess of Zeon wrote: However, I think we should augment our current military forces by offering admittance into the country beyond the current quota system for anyone who wishes to join the military, with citizenship for that person after a suitably long enlistment.
You're behind the times. The U.S. Military have been open to foreigners for about as long it have existed, with the benefit of U.S citizenship after so many years.

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