In the Kepi Blanc Magazine of March 2019 is a piece by the COMLE" (i.e. GOC Foreign Legion) General Mistral and about his vision for the Legion in 2025 (commented upon here: Ainsi va le monde !: La vision du général Mistral pour la Légion 2025).
The Legion, notwithstanding its renowned "rusticity", is adapting to new military technologies and practices, just as it has done throughout its history. In 2025, whilst continuing to exemplify its specific attributes within the French Army, the Legion will ensure that all of its personnel remain completely professionally capable and are able to meet modern operational demands.
This aim will be achieved through three concurrent courses of action.
Firstly: Although the Legion will ensure that its systemic coherence and values are maintained, including the legal status of "service as a foreigner"; the "Legion system" seen as "a homeland apart" will change. However the Legion will work to keep the attributes that ensure its cohesion, strength and reputation. The means by which the mission is accomplished will change, but the foundations of the institution will remain.
Secondly: The Legion will ensure that each Legionnaire at whichever level of training, rank or appointment will be perfectly capable to meet the technical standards required in operating in modern military structures and using the newest weapon systems. The Legion will increase the number of Francophone (i.e. French-speaking) recruits.
Thirdly: The Legion will strive to preserve its heritage and assets, both material and immaterial and will continue to set an example within the French Army, always remaining the solid dependable body on which France can rely in all circumstances.
OK, so what can we infer from the above:
1. The Legion "head shed", whether as part of a general French Army shake-up or in anticipation of it, has decided that in order to maintain its standing and employability in the 21st Century, it needs to change.
2. It is recognised that the increasing sophistication of weapon and communication systems, together with the digitisation of the battlespace requires that even the "average grunt" has to be fully aware of the greater picture and capable of integrating into the military "network of systems" being established in the French Armed Forces. It is no longer sufficient for a fit young man, who can maintain and operate his individual weapon effectively, to be able to play his part in the modern battlespace; if he only has an extremely limited knowledge of French, a very basic knowledge of individual and section/platoon infantry tactics and has the ability to instantly follow basic orders (and "do a Camerone" if necessary).
3. Legion recruitment needs to concentrate on better educated and brighter individuals with either a good initial command of French or the ability to learn quickly. Initial selection tests will be modified to encompass the above, while maintaining other required parameters such as fitness, alertness, etc.
4. The emphasis on recruiting more French-speakers is noted. If it is to increase the number of actual Frenchmen joining, the Legion is competing against the French Regular Armed Forces, therefore to attract them it must improve its Terms and & Conditions of Service (T&Cs).
5. Changed T&Cs will have to apply to all Legionnaires, not just French Nationals. This will be difficult to balance as the Legion maintains that its "cohesion" and fighting spirit depend on the T&Cs in place for the first five year contract, regarding restriction of privileges that are common in the rest of the French Army, such as having a life not controlled 100% by your Regimental chain of command. It appears that this is unlikely to change much, so there must be other incentives put in place. Perhaps a reduction in (now perceived) unnecessary bullshit will be enforced. It will also strive to preserve its ban on women recruits, arguing as it does at present that "it is already difficult to mould a disparate body of male recruits into Legionnaires, adding females into the mix would make it practically impossible".
5. Basic training for Legionnaires will need to be enhanced and likely lengthened to provide the necessary level of competence required for the modern battlefield. There will be more language training for non-Francophones and more technical training.
6. The Legion is fighting its corner in the French Army and is determined to evolve and maintain its position and prestige, perhaps even to expand if it can.
Personally, I will be watching this development with interest as I can see many problems ahead, but if the Legion can pull this off, it will be well set up for the rest of the 21st Century.