The decision, in Spring 1948, to form two battalions of Foreign Legion paratroopers was prompted by the requirement for enlarged airborne forces in the First Indochina War (1946), and the healthy recruitment then employed by the Legion. There were some initial doubts. The Legion were known to be magnificent heavy infantry, but were felt by some to lack the flexibility and agility demanded by independent airborne operations. In the Legion itself there were some misgivings over the possible clash between the self-consciously exclusive 'para mentality', and the Legion's own very marked ésprit de corps. Over time, however, all these doubts evaporated with experience.
About the Author
Martin Windrow is series editor at Osprey and an authority on the post-war French army, particularly the Foreign Legion. He is the author of the very successful MAA 300 French Foreign Legion since 1945 and the recent MAA 322 The French War in Indochina 1946-54.
KEVIN L. LYLES is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago.