I have had the privilege to serve in both the Royal Marine Commandoes and the 2eme REP of the Foreign Legion. There is a lot of disinformation about The Legion, particularly in American Quarters about exactly what the legion is.
I think Iâ€™d best start by saying that the French Foreign Legion is the main Rapid Intervention Force for the French Army. Individual Legion Units would act as the spearhead force for their respective French division. So in the case of my unit the 2eme REP, we were the spearhead force for the 11eme Division de Parachtiste. The training in the legion wouldnâ€™t present too many problems for a well conditioned former Ranger. As such it would be an interesting career move for any former US GI.
There is a completely different emphasis on discipline in the Legion with the regime being far more austere than that of the American Army. This might present some problems, as physical violence towards recruits is not uncommon..
The Americans as soldiers are not regarded highly, but their equipment is a great source of envy. The main problem is that Americans are seen as always trying to force their own culture on other people and are not as willing to go native when operating in foreign pastures, as perhaps the Legion are.
French nationals can serve as officers, but not as NCO/SNCOâ€™s. Many overcome this obstacle by declaring their nationality to be French Canadian.
The training in the Legion is fairly tough and compares favourably with modern warfare practice. I would say your average Legionnaire is able to cover more ground on foot than a Ranger as great emphasis is put on fitness. Even having done your qualification training, most REP companies will do an 8 mile mountain run daily.
The Legion also has its own Special Forces Unit integrated into the REP.
Many REP members also end up attached or serving with the GIGN.
As Iâ€™ve said Americans are seen as brash and a bit soft (no offence as this is just the perception) So Americans can expect a slightly tougher time if they join. One consolation is that they hate the British even more. Once you are assigned to a unit, then you will be treated like everyone else as you are seen as part of the Legion family.
Most Americans hook up with the Brits, Ozzies and Irish and are part of what is called the Mafia Anglaise. A unit that has a formidable drinking reputation.
Anyway hope this helps.