Spanish Legion.

Discussion in 'Multinational HQ' started by Bagster, Jun 10, 2006.

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  1. I've been looking on the Spanish Army's website, just to improve my military Spanish and get some up to date vocab, and i came across a unit enitled "La Legion Espanola". What it doesn't mention anywhere, is whether, like the French Foreign Legion, the unit is comprised of foreign volunteers or is it just full of Spaniards. Like the French Foreign Legion, they claim to be one of the lead units in Spain's rapid reaction forces and their recruiting video does make them look pretty warry. Has anyone ever worked with them? Are they any good or are they, like the Spanish Navy with whom I have worked, absolutely pump?
    thanks in advance.
  2. Yeah I remember reading a bit about them, They were the same a The French foreign legion
    up until the 80's, but have since only accepted Spanish recruits.
    But thats all I ever heard on them.
    • Funny Funny x 1
  3. The Tercio de Extranjeros - literally “legion of foreigners” – was formed in1920, at the suggestion of Colonel Millan Astray, who became it’s first commander. His 2IC was Lt Col Fransisco Franco.

    It was deliberately modelled on the French Foreign Legion, and originally had three battalions, called Banderas – “flags” – because each battalion was issued with it’s own colours. Like the French Foreign Legion, it’s original role was to fight in Spain’s African colonies.

    During the Spanish Civil war, the legion fought on the Nationalist side, and during the war it was expanded, even including some tank companies. They fought well on the battlefield, but were also involved in a number of atrocities, notably the indiscriminate killing of civilians and combatants alike after the storming of the Republican fortress city of Badajoz (the same one stormed by the British army in 1812).

    Officially, only the officers of the Tercio de Extranjeros were supposed to be Spanish, the other ranks were supposed to all be foreigners, but they turned a blind eye to Spaniards joining, having a similar no questions asked policy to the French Foreign Legion. Unlike the French, though, most of the recruits were native Spaniards, not foreigners. Throughout it’s history, only about 25% of the Tercio de Extranjeros strength were actually extranjeros. It was always regarded as an elite unit within the Spanish army, which was why a lot of native Spaniards chose to join it rather than an officially Spanish regiment.

    By 1987 there were very few foreign recruits joining, and the decision to make it a purely Spanish unit was a recognition of that reality.
  4. A few years ago the Spanish Government decided to allow volunteers from Central and South America to join the Legion; some of these recruits are entitled by birth to Spanish citizenship, but a basic requirement would appear to be that volunteers be at least from the Hispanic world. I recall an item on this coming up on the BBC News website, and volunteers from Argentina and Chile were specifically mentioned.

    The Legion is characterised by a strong Spanish nationalism and Catholicsm - they are still known as the 'Bridegrooms of Death', a phrase coined by Astray, a man who brings a whole new meaning to the term 'fire-eater'.

    On a personal note, my own grandfather served in the Legion during the Spanish Civil War - foreign volunteers on the Nationalist side were often sent to the Legion (which is apparently what happened to my grandfather, as he stayed-on in Spain after the Irish Brigade of Blueshirts disbanded).
  5. Millan Astray, the guy who founded the Spanish legion, was a nutter... His stock phrase was "long live death". Spanish legion troops were the stormtroopers of the civil war - they were the ones bayonetting the babies etc. As a result I think that they had less of a place in the post-Franco world.
  6. That's all good stuff guys, thanks very much for your help.
    Gallowglass, that's a really interesting fact about the Spanish government allowing in volunteers from Latin America; on their recruiting video, there are testimonies from soldiers serving in the Legion and listening to at least one, you can tell he's not Spanish, I thought Mexican by his pronunciation and I thought that a little strange. Another question answered. They also appear to recruit women unlike thier French counterparts.

    Thanks again for your help guys.
  7. I used to live in Spain and saw them in Ronda, Andalucia. I think this is their HQ. I always understood them to be the elite of the Spanish military.

    My son, in the British army, has a padre who's ex Spanish Legion and he's apparently very gung ho and not very padre-like at all!
  8. The training is only 4 months but friggin LETHAL, There are roumurs of recruits who died during training and some dodgy goings on.

    They do take foreigners but most of the legion is made from Spaniards.

  9. interesting about ya family history , here is a wee bit i found about the leader of the irish blueshirts :D

    Eoin O'Duffy rose to prominence as Chief of Staff of the IRA at the time of the Civil War and was commander of the Monaghan brigade and later IRA Chief of Staff. At this time, as pro-treaty he split with de Valera. As the first Chief Commissioner of the Garda Siochana (Irish police force), Eoin O'Duffy turned himself into Ireland's answer to Mussolini being leader of the 100000 strong fascist Blueshirts movement (Army Comrades Association) which he renamed the National Guard. This organisation echoed Hitler's SA movement and based its marches, flags and salutes (Hail, O'Duffy) on those in use in Nazi Germany.

    In 1933 O'Duffy was the founder of the Fine Gael Party which developed from the Blueshirts, and was thus leader of the political opposition to de Valera's Fianna Fail party. A year later he was ousted from the leadership when he proposed an invasion of Northern Ireland. Fine Gael saw itself strongly in the mainstream of European fascism and this can clearly be seen in the words of John A. Costello who later became leader of Fine Gael and Prime Minister of the Irish Republic. Speaking in the Dail he said "The Blackshirts have been victorious in Italy and Hitler's Brownshirts have been victorious in Germany, as assuredly the Blueshirts will be victorious in Ireland". During the Spanish Civil War O'Duffy led the 700 strong pro-Franco Irish brigade, but the Spanish fascist was not impressed by his fascist colleague O'Duffy's drunken antics and disbanded them.

    During World War Two (Still known in the Republic of Ireland as the Emergency) O'Duffy took a great interest in Nazism with which his Peoples National Party was closely aligned. He even went to the extent of sending an offer to Hitler saying that he would raise a "Green Legion" of Irishmen to fight on the Russian front. As a Nazi collaborator he spent time in Germany discussing with the Nazis in true Irish Republican fashion precisely what he could do to assist in Hitler's campaign against Britain. The 'Green Duce' that had modelled himself on Mussolini and supported Hitler died peacefully in 1944 and was buried with a state funeral in Glasnevin cemetry in Dublin, alongide other heroes of Irish Republicanism such as Daniel O'Connell, Roger Casement and O'Duffy's former comrade Michael Collins.
  10. My brother worked with them in late 1980s - comments may, therefore, be out of date/ no longer apply, but for all that, worth repeating.

    Training: physically demanding, at times brutal, but very limited in scope. They were physically fit, but skills & drills were poor. Most soldiers couldn't read a map (and were not expected to)...or, for that matter, the Spanish equivalent of The Scum!

    Capabilities: not as poptastic as their PR claimed. Tactically basic, naive & totally inflexible. No initiative, but mucho machismo. Officers did jobs that any reasonably experienced soldier would be expected to do in Brit Army, and despite claiming to possess all manner of "special capabilities" there was little to suggest that there was ever any serious training in these. Even the BOEL (special ops company) was limited: "On a good day maybe it could match the recce plat of the average TA infantry battalion."

    In short, not up to much, but things may have changed.
    • Informative Informative x 2
  11. Read something on the Spanish Legion once. from memory, it said that the Spanish Legion had a lot of brutal disciplaine & loads of bulls###.
    one Brit who served with them signed on for 5 years & hated every minuite, was told at the end of this period that 3 years had been added for somehting or other, so he promtly went awol.
  12. Hi guys,

    I am former member of the UOEL, old name of the BOEL, Bandera de Operaciones Especiales de la Legion, Special Ops Battallion in Spanish Legion.
    Some trues and some lies.
    The United was ended in 2001, I think because politics decided establish a new Special Ops Force jointing most of the old units, the real reason never declared and know by all, it was that always Policy makers were very worry with so a qualified Unit, they thought from right wings tendences, in a hand of a only General -- Legion has it own Generals.

    In Shinderhannes, Germany, NATO Long Range recce exercise -- Dragons Parachutist French, US, Rangers, Brits, ... , BOEL get 98% score, 2nd unit get 84%

    In Eugene, French, idem 96%, 2nd 74%.
    I do not remember the exacts Units but I think, US Greeberets, 2nd REP French Legion, 23Rgto SAS etc... One entire US patrol was founded several days after the end hanged by foot in a bush, naked.
    Also was famous that a Foward comms post french spot our comms in a huge bush: they deployed several platoons and surronding us covering every hedge and plant and tree. Finally they did not find the patrol hidded under ground where some cows were eating, and we ongoing the mission.

    One report, this one was by a reporter who stayed in one of our SERE course, and was prohibited publishing his photos. He only asked us, once finished, how we can suffer and allow this:

    “Formed in 1920. Also known as: Tercio de Extranjeros. Headquarters: Almeria. The Legion also has Regiments in Melilla (or Mlilla, looking for accurate spelling), Ceuta, Fuertoventura,and Ronda.
    The Spanish Legion (formally Spanish Foreign Legion) is part of Spain's Rapid Reaction Force. The Legion formally took in foreigners who could pass selection. The Legion, however, has always been mostly Spaniards. Only about 20% of the early recruits and personnel were from other countries. This however has changed slightly. Rumours have risen that the Legion still takes some foreigner but the main cadre are Spaniards. At one time signing up for the Legion was simple (like their French cousin). The Legion hopeful could ask any police officer or go to an Embassy, where he would then be turned over to the Legion. The recruit would be shown a film and talked to. He could then decide if this was really what he wanted. Training would then begin for the recruit. He would then go to Ronda for a selection process. Training was brutal and some recruits were said to have died. The Legion today is not for the weak. Training is still brutal with punishment usually being a severe beating from NCOs who run training. Training still takes place in Ronda. It is surprisingly short, usually 3-4 months long. Recruits are signed on for a 3 year contract which is as hard to get out of as the French Foreign Legion's. Recruits now are all volunteers from Spain (maybe). Basic military skills are taught, and forced marches are the norm. Like FFL, hard marches are supposed to make or brake a soldier. The Assault course is one of the most difficult in the world. Rumour has it live ammunition is used to shoot at recruits feet and over their heads while they are trying to complete the course.
    Recruits which undergo E&E training, usually UOEL soldiers, should expect punishment. E&E is brutal. The men are subjected to brutal beatings and other means of "torture". While no recruit has been killed during this phase, it must be said that it is probably very close to the real thing.
    The Spanish Legion consists of some 7,000-8,000 men (yes only men) roughly. The Legion consists of 4 Regiments (called Tercios). Each Regiment has 4 Battalions (or Banderas). While their are more Regiments in the Legion, the one which has a "Special Operations" role is the 4th Tercio Alejandro Farnesio (or the The 4th Alexander Farnesio Regiment) UOEL. It is based in Ronda. It has two Banderas, one a Parachute Element, and another the Bandera de Operaciones Especiales (BOEL).

    The UOEL (BOEL ,as they are known later), is the Spanish Legion "Special Operations" unit. The Battalion consists of about 120 men. They are trained in several different area: SCUBA/Maratime Warfare, Arctic and Mountain Warfare, Sabotage and Demolitions (BOEL Demo experts are very highly regarded), Parachute and HALO techniques, Long Range Reconnaissance, Counterterrorism and CQB Vehicle insertion, Sniping, SERE,.
    To carry out in depth special reconnaissance and offensive direct actions against highly strategic, and heavily defended, objectives". Some of the many missions the unit is capable of conducting are: Long range reconnaissance prior to conventional force deployments. Intelligence gathering. Target acquisition, observation, and forward artillery control. Disruption of enemy lines of communications. Direct action missions, such as shock assaults, raids, maritime interdiction operations and ship boarding. Personnel recovery operations, such as the rescue of down pilots. Students are sent to the School of Parachuting, and receive training in basic parachute operations. Upon their return to the unit they are provided instruction in conducting sea water parachute jumps, during which students must conduct several parachute jumps into the open ocean. Students then advance on to learning basic commando skills such as infiltration tactics and beaching, raids, ambushes, small boat handling and amphibious operations, unarmed combat and cold killing, map reading and land navigation, ground survival, combat medicine, helicopter and airmobile operations, fast roping, rappelling, and pathfinding, Those who successfully complete this phase advance to more specialized skills training. Student are instructed in hydorgraphic survey techniques, laser target designation, forward artillery control, rock climbing and mountaineering, cliff assault, and even basic hostage rescue skills. During this phase students will begin to specialize in a specific skill such as HALO/HALO operations, combat diving, demolitions, and sniping. In addition to their initial training, Officers and NCOs must also undertake training at the Army's Special Operations Unit Command Course. ”

    Another important issue was the current live fire exercises that some NATO General intended to canceled due they said we were crazy.

    Some of my old mates are now in the new joint, GOE, small unit , like the old UOEL, and highly qualified.

    Regarding PMC, although we are not allow deploy in Iraq - Afghanistan AO, we are in South America, some finishing in Basque Country and some in Africa. I have mates killed in Colombia, Italy, Sierra Leone etc..

    Please ask to SAS and SBS member regarding UOEL, UOE, GEO, UEI, SADA... we were-are a few men, but asking those guys...

    Thanks mates.
    • Informative Informative x 3
  13. The Spanish Army has a whole 'Brigada' of La Legion but it wouldn't be as big as a Brit brigade.

    Officers can get posted into it and out of it - its not permenant for them, although it is for the vast majority of the troops, which includes female infanteers, too! (Lo siento Jouoel, pero hoy en día es un hecho y lo que has escrito no es verdad....)

    Also, it's an integral part of the professional, regular army, so there is no different commitment involved than with any other Spanish infantry unit.

    If you need any more info, Bagster, give me a PM - I work with a couple of Legionarios on a daily basis at present. I have a sneaking suspicion though, that we may have been in comms already.

  14. Blueshirts? I'm sorry but I don't care how professional or scary they might or might not have been, but I just have a real problem taking seriously an organisation whose motto was 'Hoch O'Duffy!' :lol:
    • Funny Funny x 2
  15. Spanish Legion troops took over from the USMC in Najaf when I was there in late '03. Their officers wandered around the Marine compound and were overheard by several hispanic Marines talking to each other at how appalled they were at how the Marines lived, apparently the accomodations were well below their standards. They didn't seem all that impressive--certainly nowhere near the standard of the Marines, Brits or the Italian Caribineiri that I worked with.