Foreign Legion Command

COMLE insigniaCommandement de la Légion Etrangère, COMLE. The COMLE includes the office of the Commander of the Foreign Legion (Le général commandant la Légion étrangère, with the rank of general) and the general staff of the Foreign Legion. Nicknamed the Father of the Legion (Le Père de la Légion), the Commander supervises the Legion. He also reports directly to the Chief of Staff of the French Army and advises him on Foreign Legion matters.

The COMLE was established on March 2, 1931, under the title of Foreign Legion Inspection (Inspection de la Légion Etrangère, ILE). After several deactivations and changes of its title, the general staff of the Legion became the COMLE in 1984. It is based in the Quartier Viénot in Aubagne (Southern France, close to Marseille), home of the 1st Foreign Regiment (1er RE).

Today, three units of the Foreign Legion report directly to the COMLE: 1st Foreign Regiment (a unit carrying out administrative tasks), 4e RE (a training unit), and GRLE (a recruiting unit). The other Legion units report to the staff of the brigades (or forces) to which they are assigned.

 
Foreign Legion Command - COMLE - Commandement de la Légion Etrangère

 

Current structure of the Foreign Legion Command

The command is divided (in 2024) into a research bureau and four departments (divisions) and consists of some 50 personnel.

The COMLE includes a Commander of the COMLE (a chief of the Legion), an officer with the rank of general who has served with the Legion for most of his career. He has at his disposal a general staff (l’etat-major). The general staff is headed by a chief of the general staff (CEM). The Foreign Legion Command is responsible for the overall performance of the Legion. This includes administration, discipline, internal traditions, training, morale, solidarity, communication and public relations, recruitment, and administrative and security tasks regarding military personnel serving as foreigners (à titre étranger).

In 2024, the COMLE operates:

  • Synthesis, Management & Research Bureau (Bureau d’Études, Pilotage et Synthese, BEPS)
  • Human Resources Division (Division des Ressources Humaines, DRHLE)
  • Security & Protection Division (Division Sécurité et Protection, DSPLE)
  • Influence & Heritage Division (Division Rayonnement et Patrimoine, DRPLE)
  • Mutual Aid & Solidarity Division (Division Entraide, DELE)

 

Synthesis, Management & Research Bureau – BEPS

The BEPS is led by an officer authorized to carry out the missions necessary for a successful synthesis (or harmonization) of the French Army and the Foreign Legion. He is accompanied by a high-level legal advisor, an expert in management and effectiveness, and an assistant for organization and administration. The bureau is responsible, among other things, for strategic management aimed at greater efficiency and prognostication, managing assigned research studies and synthesis, following the orders of the French Army’s general staff and their harmonization with the Legion, preserving the status of a legionnaire serving as a foreigner (à titre étranger, TE), carrying out prospective and anticipatory studies for the COMLE, preparing and facilitating the processing of cross-section files not controlled by the CEM, ensuring the coherence of the COMLE’s different divisions, editing proposals for public speeches or written work (articles, official letters) at the request of the Chief of COMLE, and organizing bilateral meetings or working meetings for the Chief of COMLE.

 

Foreign Legion Human Resources Division – DRHLE

The DRHLE is responsible for keeping files of current legionnaires serving as foreigners as well as those who have left the Legion as non-naturalized. The division, which is administered by the CAPLE 1er RE personnel, also includes two bureaus which help legionnaires return to civilian life:

  • Foreign Legion Retraining Assistance Bureau (Bureau d’Aide à la Reconversion de la Légion Etrangère, BARLE)
  • Foreign Legion Veterans Bureau (Bureau des Anciens de la Légion Etrangère, BALE)

 

Foreign Legion Security & Protection Division – DSPLE

The DSPLE is an intelligence body nicknamed Gestapo by legionnaires, since the 1940s. It carries out the process of investigating the backgrounds of potential legionnaires and is commonly used to verify the accuracy of a candidate’s claims as well as to discover any possible criminal history. Apart from the background checks, the DSPLE is responsible for protecting the once selected candidates, serving legionnaires, and former legionnaires who have returned to civilian life (not applicable to deserters). This protection means that the person will not be handed over to the police or to officials of the country of which he was a citizen before joining the Legion, for crimes he mentioned as the reason for hiding himself in the Legion. The DSPLE protects the person in all places around the world except for the country of which he was a citizen before joining the Legion. The division is administered by the CSLE 1er RE personnel.

 

Foreign Legion Influence & Heritage Division – DRPLE

The DRPLE is responsible for handling public relations, promoting the Legion to the public, coordinating all communication within the Legion, and preserving the Legion’s historical memorials and collections. The division is administered by the CSLE 1er RE personnel and includes three parts:

  • Communication Center
    • responsible for media communication
    • manages social media accounts
  • Heritage Bureau
    • groups objects and institutions related to the history of the Legion
    • e.g., the Foreign Legion Museum
    • the Historical Research & Documentation Center (CDRH)
    • the regiments’ Hall of Honor
    • the famous War Memorial (Monument aux morts)
  • Production Bureau
    • publishes the Kepi Blanc magazine
    • arranges Foreign Legion Music Band activities
    • has a media platoon (reporters, photographers, cameramen)

 

Foreign Legion Mutual Aid Division – DELE

The DELE is responsible for providing social actions in support of legionnaires and veterans (serving as foreigners) and their families. This can take the form of material, administrative, and legal assistance, as well as individual assistance in the form of grants or loans. The division is administered by the CSLE 1er RE personnel and includes two main parts.

The first of them is the Foreign Legion Mutual Aid Foyer (Foyer d’Entraide de la Légion Etrangère, FELE). In this case, the foyer means a household of a community which cares about its members. The FELE is a public institution headed by the Commander of the Foreign Legion and assigned to the Ministry of Defense. However, it doesn’t receive financial aid from the state. The FELE provides material and financial aid for wounded legionnaires and veterans by managing fund-raising campaigns (e.g., through Kepi Blanc magazine). An integral part of the FELE is an important, well-known facility: the Foreign Legion Disabled Veterans Institution (IILE), the official retirement home of the Legion. Opened in 1954, it is based at Puyloubier, close to Aubagne. In addition, the FELE financially supports an older, but unofficial retirement home: the Home of Legionnaire (La Maison du Légionnaire), which is based at Auriol, close to Aubagne, and serves for some 70-80 elderly ex-legionnaires. The institution also handles, among other things, maintenance of Foreign Legion cemeteries.

The second part of the DELE is the Foreign Legion Joint Circle (Cercle Mixte de la Légion Etrangère, CMLE), created in 2014. The CMLE is a private administrative facility that provides catering, hotel, and recreational services. The funds raised from its activities help to finance the Foreign Legion Mutual Aid & Solidarity Fund (FESLE; not to be confused with the FELE, Foyer).

 

CLE and CSBLE

There are another two particular bodies providing advisory board services to the COMLE.

As military personnel serving as foreigners are not statutorily eligible to sit on the various military service councils, the Foreign Legion Council (Conseil de la Légion Etrangère, CLE) was created in 2010. It is a consultative body tasked with providing the Chief of Staff of the French Army (CEMAT) and the Commander of the Foreign Legion with an assessment of the general situation of the Foreign Legion. It also advises the CEMAT prior to any general decision that could have an impact on the Foreign Legion. Finally, it advises the COMLE on decisions of a specific nature, notably concerning the implementation of standards and directives deriving from the status of personnel serving in France as foreigner, and on specific conditions of service. Composed of members representing the various statutory categories (officers, non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel), it is chaired by the Chief of Staff of the French Army (CEMAT), with the Commander of the Foreign Legion as Vice-Chairman.

The Foreign Legion Wounded Monitoring Committee (Commission de Suivi des Blessés de la Légion Etrangère, CSBLE) is another consultative body assigned to the COMLE. Created in 2011, this “family council” takes care and watches over the Legion’s wounded officers, NCOs, and legionnaires. The CSBLE is not a substitute for the French Army’s rehabilitation program, but rather a complement to it.

 

FOREIGN LEGION COMMAND
NICKNAME:
ACTIVATION: 1984
MOTTO: Honneur et Fidélité (Honor and Fidelity)
REGIM. MARCH: Le Boudin

 

Location of the Foreign Legion Command

 

 

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