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 Esprit de corps. Over time, however, all these doubts evaporated with experience.
About the Author
Martin Windrow is an English military historian and a long-time commissioning and art editor for Osprey Publishing. He is the author of numerous books of military history, including "The Last Valley", a distinguished history of the French defeat in Vietnam. He lives in the Sussex Downs country of southern England.
KEVIN L. LYLES is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago.