You can help by adding to it. Ranks[ edit ] The military ranks and promotion conditions of the Spanish Legion are the same as those applicable to the remainder of the Spanish Army. Formerly the Legion had its own rank system for non-commissioned officers. The only modern difference is that soldiers OR-1 in the Legion are referred to as "Caballeros Legionarios" Legionnaire gentlemen.
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Founded as the Tercio de Extranjeros "Foreigners Regiment" , it was originally intended as a Spanish equivalent of the French Foreign Legion, but in practice it recruited almost exclusively Spaniards.
The French Legion, with around 4, men, landed at Tarragona on 17 August This became the First Spanish Legion until it was dissolved on 8 December , when it had dropped to only men. This Legion fought for the fortified bridge of Arrigorriaga on September 11, The Spanish Foreign Legion was created along the lines of the French Foreign Legion as a corps of professional troops that could replace conscripts in colonial campaigns.
There has been much confusion—even today—in the English speaking countries over the Spanish title for this military unit "La Legion Extranjera" which roughly translates in English as "The Legion of Foreigners". The misconception is over the Spanish word "extranjero" which has a triple meaning and can be translated as "foreigners," but also can mean "foreign" or "abroad".
In this case the translation is "abroad". The Spanish title actually should be translated in English as "The Legion to serve abroad". While the Spanish Foreign Legion did accept non-Spaniards when it was first recruited e. His style and attitude would become part of the mystique of the Legion. On September 20 the first recruit joined the new Legion; this date is celebrated yearly. The initial make-up of the regiment was that of a headquarters unit and three battalions known as Banderas, or "flags".
Each battalion was in turn made up of a headquarters company, two rifle companies and a machine gun company. At its height, during the Spanish Civil War, the legion consisted of 18 banderas, plus a tank bandera, an assault engineer bandera and a Special Operations Group.
Banderas 12 through 18 were considered independent units and never served as part of the tercios. The Legion fought in Morocco in the War of the Rif to In units of both the Legion and the Regulares were brought to Spain by the new Republican Government to help put down a workers revolt in the area of Asturias. Following the Nationalist victory in , the Legion was reduced in size and returned to its bases in Spanish Morocco.
When Morocco gained its independence in the Legion continued in existence as part of the garrison of the remaining Spanish enclaves and territories in North Africa.
The Legion fought Arab irregulars in the Ifni War in On June 17, , Legion units opened fire and killed eleven pro-independence demonstrators at the Zemla quarters of El-Aaiun in the Western Sahara, then still the Spanish Sahara. The incident, which came to be called the Zemla Intifada, had a significant influence on pushing the Sahrawi anticolonial movement into embarking on an armed struggle which still goes on up to the present, though Spain has long since abandoned the territory and handed it over to Morocco.
After it stopped accepting foreigners altogether and changed its name to the Spanish Legion. In the s, after the abandonment of conscription, the Spanish Army again accepted foreigners from select nationalities.
Included were: male and female native Spanish speakers, mostly from Central American and South American states. Recruits were required to have a valid Spanish residence permit. Promotion prospects for foreigners were however reported to be limited. Today acceptance to the Spanish Legion is based on the following criteria. Be a Spanish citizen although citizens from former Spanish colonies can join Be a citizen in good legal standing Not be deprived of civil rights Be at least 18 years of age and not be turning 28 on the year of inscription Be able to pass psychological, physical, and medical evaluations In recent years the Spanish Legion was involved in Bosnia as part of the SFOR.
The Legion units deployed in Iraq were involved in several combats against the insurgency. For instance, the Legion adopted the regimental designation of tercio in memory of the sixteenth century Spanish infantry formations that had toppled nations and terrorized the battlefields of Europe in the days of Charles V.
Its members, regardless of rank, are titled Caballero Legionario "Knight Legionnaire". When women were admitted, they were titled Dama Legionaria "Lady Legionnaire". Those within earshot are bound to help him regardless of the circumstances.
In practice, Legionnaires are never supposed to abandon a comrade on the battlefield. Contrary to usual military practice, Legionnaires are allowed to sport beards and can wear their shirts open on the chest. From its establishment the Legion was noted for its plain and simple uniforms, in contrast to the colourful dress uniforms still worn by the Peninsular regiments of the Spanish Army until the overthrow of the Monarchy in This was part of the cult of austerity favoured by a unit that considered itself on more or less continual active service.
The most distinctive feature of the modern Legion uniform is a khaki "gorrillo" cap with red tassel and braiding. During the Holy Week processions, the paso carried by legionnaires is held not on the shoulders but on their extended arms to show their faith, toughness, strength, and endurance. The Legion had several mascots during its history, such as monkeys, chickens, capercaillies, wild boars, barbary sheep Spanish, arruis , bears or parrots.
The modern Legion however has a goat as mascot of the unit. It currently numbers 5, in a Brigade of two tercios regiments.
It is directly controlled by the Spanish General Staff. The Legion remains a harshly disciplined elite unit. Much of the training was undertaken in Fort Bragg.
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