I'm a US Army Veteran who met (and worked with) FFL Officers in the Far East. They are creme-de-la-creme soldiers, every one of them a bona-fide volunteer!
Once I had a professor in college proclaim to the class (after returning our exams that we mostly bombed):
"Now, if you scored poorly on the exam, don't go off to join the French Foreign Legion, okay? There will be other exams offered this semester that can help get your grades back on track."
The FFL is hardcore, and it's no joke. You've got to get yourself over to France to enlist though. Per the French Embassy in the USA, the ENLISTMENT REQUIREMENTS are:
*To be between the age of 17 and 40 years old,
*To hold a valid official identity card, (proof of nationality)
*To be physically fit for duty wherever he may be needed,
(Knowledge of the French language is not necessary because it will be acquired during the contract.)
They take male volunteer recruits only, and people of all nationalities can apply for service. (You need not be a French citizen, but only French nationals can be FFL Officers.)
A high school diploma is not required. FFL prefers recruits who are single orphans for obvious reasons (no attachment to family, no doting parents, no kids or wife to look after, etc.).
The first contract is 5 years long.
To enlist in the French Foreign Legion, all volunteers must present themselves to any recruiting office in France. Travel costs and the eventual obtention of a visa (if accepted) are borne by the candidate and no help whatsoever can be accorded by the French Foreign Legion.
If successful, after preliminary medical check-ups, the candidate will be transfered to the selection center of the Legion Headquarters in Aubagne (15 kms from Marseille) where he will undergo medical, IQ and physical fitness tests.
If the candidate is successfull in passing the selection, he will be asked to sign a five years unconditional contract to serve wherever the French Foreign Legion needs him.
The unsuccessfull candidate is immediately returned to civilian life to rejoin his country of origin without any financial aid.
The Initial Contract
For 4 months the new legionnaire will receive basic military instruction at the 4th Foreign Regiment located in Castelnaudary after which he will be posted to a regiment, depending on his capabilities and the needs of the French Foreign Legion.
Promotion through the ranks will depend upon his physical capacities as well as his IQ, service record and leadership abilities.
Embassy of France in the United States - February 26, 2001