French Foreign Legion Ranks

The ranks within the French Foreign Legion. Ordinary soldiers ranks, Non-commissioned officers ranks, Commissioned officers ranks. Foreign Legion’s ranking system is based on the French Army ranking system. However, there are some distinctions that make the Legion’s ranking system unique.

Before receiving his Képi blanc (White Kepi) and the right to called himself as the Legionnaire, an enlisted volunteer/recruit is addressed as a simply Engagé Volontaire (Enlisted Volunteer) and authorized to wear a green beret only.

 

ORDINARY SOLDIERS (Militaires du rang, MDR):

Legionnaire de 2e classe

Second Class Legionnaire - Legionnaire de 2e classe - shoulder board rank

 

Second Class Legionnaire (equivalent to Private)

He is addressed: “Legionnaire”

Recruit/Volunteer receives that designation (it is not a rank officially) after the first four weeks of the basic training (at La ferme, the farm), if he has also finished his Marche Képi blanc (White Kepi March) successfully.

 

Legionnaire de 1re classe

Legionnaire de 1re classe shoulder board rank

First Class Legionnaire - Legionnaire de 1re classe chest rank patch

 

First Class Legionnaire

He is addressed: “1re classe”

Legionnaire de 2e classe receives that rank after a minimum of 10 months of his service.

 

Caporal (Brigadier)

Caporal/Brigadier shoulder board rank

Caporal/Brigadier chest rank patch

 

Corporal

You have to address him: “Caporal”

In the 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment (1er REC), Corporal is called Brigadier (a Cavalry tradition).
Legionnaire de 1re classe receives that rank at the end of his successfully finished Stage Caporal (Corporal’s course), a practical month- or two-month-long course for future Corporals.

 

Caporal-chef (Brigadier-chef)

Caporal-chef shoulder board rank

Brigadier-chef shoulder board rank

Caporal-chef/Brigadier-chef chest rank patch

 

Senior Corporal

You have to address him: “Caporal-chef”

In 1er REC, Senior Corporal is called Brigadier-chef (a Cavalry tradition).
Caporal/Brigadier is allowed to receive that rank after a minimum of 6 years of service, if he do not want (or is not allowed) to continue as a Sous-Officier (a Non-Commissioned Officer, NCO).

 

NON-COMMISSIONED OFFICERS (Sous-Officiers)

Sergent (Maréchal des logis)

Sergent shoulder board rank

Maréchal des logis shoulder board rank

Sergent/Maréchal des logis chest rank patch

 

Sergeant

You have to address him: “Sergent” (or “Maréchal des logis” for Cavalry)

In 1er REC, Sergeant is called Maréchal des logis (a Cavalry tradition).
Caporal/Brigadier (even a Caporal-chef/Brigadier-chef) receives that rank at the end of his successfully finished Stage Sergent (Advanced Leader Course in US Army), a practical ca. 8-month-long course for future Legion’s Sergeants.

 

Sergent-chef (Maréchal des logis-chef)

Sergent-chef shoulder board rank

Maréchal des logis-chef shoulder board rank

Sergent-chef/Maréchal des logis-chef chest rank patch

 

Staff Sergeant

You have to address him: “Chef”

In 1er REC, Staff Sergeant is called Maréchal des logis-chef (a Cavalry tradition).
Sergent/Maréchal des logis is allowed to receive that rank after a minimum of 3 years of service as a Sergent/Maréchal des logis. Sergent-chef/Maréchal des logis-chef is able to command a platoon (or peloton for Cavalry).

 

Adjudant

Adjudant shoulder board rank

Adjudant Cavalry shoulder board rank

Adjudant chest rank patch

 

Master Sergeant (US) or Warrant Officer Class Two (UK)

You have to address him: “Mon Adjudant” (or “Mon Lieutenant” for Cavalry)

Sergent-chef/Maréchal des logis-chef is allowed to obtain that rank after a minimum of 3 years of service as a Sergent-chef/Maréchal des logis-chef. Adjudant is able to command a platoon (or peloton for Cavalry).

 

Adjudant-chef

Adjudant-chef shoulder board rank

Adjudant-chef Cavalry shoulder board rank

Adjudant-chef chest rank patch

 

Sergeant Major (US) or Warrant Officer Class One (UK)

You have to address him: “Mon Adjudant-chef” (or “Mon Lieutenant” for Cavalry)

Adjudant is allowed to obtain that rank after a minimum of 4 years of service as an Adjudant. Adjudant-chef is able to command a platoon (or peloton for Cavalry).

 

Major

Major shoulder board rank

Major Cavalry shoulder board rank

Major chest rank patch

 

Command Sergeant Major (US) or Regimental Sergeant Major (UK)

You have to address him: “Major”

Adjudant-chef can obtain this most senior NCO rank if he refused to continue his career as an officier. Usually, he has to serve more than 25 years to be able to obtain it.
He has to pass an audition/examination successfully or, if he has been serving for a sufficient time, he can submit an application for. Major is an uncommon rank within the Legion. Usually, there are no more than two Majors in a regiment.

 

COMMISSIONED OFFICERS (Officiers)

Aspirant

Aspirant shoulder board rank

Aspirant Cavalry shoulder board rank

Aspirant chest rank patch

 

Officer Candidate (US) or Officer Cadet (UK)

You have to address him: “Mon Lieutenant”

Aspirant is able to command a platoon (or peloton for Cavalry).

 

Sous-Lieutenant

Sous-Lieutenant shoulder board rank

Sous-Lieutenant Cavalry shoulder board rank

Sous-Lieutenant chest rank patch

 

Second Lieutenant

You have to address him: “Mon Lieutenant”

Sous-Lieutenant is able to command a platoon (or peloton for Cavalry).

 

Lieutenant

Lieutenant shoulder board rank

Lieutenant Cavalry shoulder board rank

Lieutenant chest rank patch

 

First Lieutenant (US) or Lieutenant (UK)

You have to address him: “Mon Lieutenant”

Lieutenant is able to command a platoon (or peloton for Cavalry). For lack of officers, he could be allowed to command a company (or squadron for Cavalry).

 

Capitaine

Capitaine shoulder board rank

Capitaine Cavalry shoulder board rank

Capitaine chest rank patch

 

Captain

You have to address him: “Mon Capitaine”

Capitaine is able to command a company (or squadron for Cavalry). For lack of officers, he could be allowed to command a battalion (or a group of squadrons for Cavalry).

 

Commandant

Commandant shoulder board rank

Commandant Cavalry shoulder board rank

Commandant chest rank patch

 

Major

You have to address him: “Mon Commandant”

Commandant is officially referred to as Chef de bataillon (or Chef d’escadrons for Cavalry). He is able to command a battalion (or a group of squadrons for Cavalry) or a half-brigade. He might act as a deputy for a regiment commander (Lieutenant-Colonel or Colonel).

 

Lieutenant-Colonel

Lieutenant-Colonel shoulder board rank

Lieutenant-Colonel Cavalry shoulder board rank

Lieutenant-Colonel chest rank patch

 

Lieutenant Colonel

You have to address him: “Mon Colonel”

Lieutenant-Colonel is able to command a regiment.

 

Colonel

Colonel shoulder board rank

Colonel Cavalry shoulder board rank

Colonel chest rank patch

 

Colonel

You have to address him: “Mon Colonel”

Colonel is able to command a regiment.

 

Général de Brigade

Général de Brigade shoulder board rank

Général de Brigade chest rank patch

 

Brigadier General (US) or Brigadier (UK)

You have to address him: “Mon Général”

Général de Brigade is able to be the commander of the whole French Foreign Legion.

 

Général de Division

Général de Division shoulder board rank

Général de Division chest rank patch

 

Major General

You have to address him: “Mon Général”

Général de Division is able to be the commander of the whole French Foreign Legion.

 
 

 
 

© Images credit: ForeignLegion.Info

Information source:
French Ministry of Defence
Légion étrangère
Wikipedia.org
Special thanks to Joe van Raamt, a former cavalry legionnaire, for his help

 

 

The page was updated on: January 15, 2017

 

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