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A) Zouaves ( European Unit )

B) Chasseurs d'Afrique ( European Unit )

C) French Foreign Legion ( European Unit )

D) Infanterie Legere d'Afrique ( European Unit )

E) Tirailleurs (Indigenous Unit )

F) Spahis (Indigenous Unit )

G) Maroccan Goumiers (Indigenous Unit )

H) Meharistes (Indigenous Unit )


The Army of Africa was an unofficial but commonly used term for those portions of the French Army recruited from or normally stationed in French North Africa (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) from 1830 until the end of the Algerian War in 1962. The Armée d’Afrique was formally part of the French metropolitan army comprising a separate army corps. The designation of 19th Army Corps (19e Corps d'Armee) was allocated to the Armee

d'Afrique in 1873.[1] As such it was separate from the French Colonial Forces which came under the Ministry of Marine and comprised both French and indigenous units serving in Sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere in the French colonial empire.



( Zouvave is a tribe of Berbers). Zouave was the title given to certain light infantry regiments in the French Army, normally serving in North Africa between 1831 ( first raised in Algeria ) and 1962.


First raised in the 1830s from regular French cavalry posted to Algeria. Algerian independence brought an end to the corps through a series of disbandments and transfers between 1962 and 1964, after over a century of service. However one regiment (1er Regiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique) was re-raised in 1998 to preserve the traditions of this famous cavalry. (The name was also applied to the first all African-American regiment formed by the United States Army in New Orleans in 1862 )


The Foreign Legion is an elite fighting force of the Armee de Terre or French Army. The French Foreign Legion was established in 10 March 1831. Current commander is brigade general Christophe de Saint Chamas. There are 491,992 legionnaires ( Turkish 1000, Moroccan 200, Tunusian 200, Egyptian 100 )

As part of the Army of Africa, the Foreign Legion contributed to the growth of the French colonial Empire in Sub-Saharan Africa. Simultaneously, the Legion took part to the pacification of Algeria, plagued by various tribal rebellions and razzias.

** Operations : Conquest of Algeria (1830–1847), Crimean War (1854–1856), Campaign of Italy (1859), Mexico (1863–1867), Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871), Sino-French War (1883–1888), Second Franco-Dahomean War (1892–1894), Second Madagascar expedition (1894–1895), Mandingo War (1898), The Algerian War of Independence (1954–62), Intervention in Chad ( 1969-1971), Chadian-Libyan conflict ( 1969–72 / 78-79/83-87), Democratic Republic of the Congo ( 1978 ), Batte of Kolwezi-Zaire ( 1978), Rwanda ( 1990-1995 ), Somalia ( 1992 ), Sarajewo ( 1993 ), Central African Republic ( 1996 ), Congo ( 1997 ), Kosovo and Macedonia ( 1999), Afghanistan ( 2001), Ivory Coast ( 2000-present ),* Operation Licorne in Ivory Coast ( 2003),* EUFOR Tchad/RCA in Chad (2008)

** Notable Operations :

CHAD: Operation Opervier 1986-2009

GUINEA GULF : Operation Corymbe ( 1990 )

GABON : Operation Requin ( 1990 )

ZAIRE : Operation Baumier ( 1991 )

DJIBOUTI: Operation Iskoutir ( 1992 )

RWANDA : Operation Noroit ( 1990-1994 )

RWANDA : Operation Turquise ( 1994 )

COMORES : Operation Azalee ( 1995 )

CENTRAL AFRICA: Operation Almandins ( 1996 )

GUINEA BISSAU : Operation Iroko ( 1998 )

IVORY COAST : Operation Licorne ( 2002 )

D.R.CONGO : Operations Mamba and Artemis

CURRENT DEPLOYMENTS : French Guiana, Afghanistan, Mayotte (Departmental Collectivity of Mayotte - Prevention DLEM Mission de souveraineté ), UAE ( formerly in Djibuti- Prevention 13 DBLE; 1e REC / 1° escadron; 1e REG / 3° compagnie), Gabon (2e REP / 3° compagnie – 4° compagnie )

** Gen. Ante Gotovina, 55, is a former French legionnaire, once convicted of robbery and extortion and with close former links to the extreme right, who is now a popular, celebrity in his homeland and the poster pin-up of an assertive Croatian nationalism. After fighting in Chad and Zaire he became a French citizen in 1979

D) AFRICAN LIGHT INFANTRY (Infanterie Légère d'Afrique)

It was made up of convicted military criminals from all branches of the French Army, who had finished their sentences in military prisons but still had time to serve before their terms of engagement were completed. The preference was not to return them to their original units where they might undermine discipline or brutalise their fellow soldiers. The first two battalions of the Infanterie Legere d'Afrique were raised in 1832 for service in Algeria. Ironically known as "les Joyeux" (the merry ones) these units were generally used for road and other construction work under harsh discipline. They were however used for combat service when circumstances demanded in Africa, Indochina and in France itself during World War I.

Desert Troops : Camel mounted Meharistes plus Compagnies Sahariennes (desert infantry and later mechanised troops) were maintained in the Sahara. The Foreign Legion provided mule mounted detachments for service in southern Algeria and, from 1940 to 1962, four of the Compagnies Sahariennes.In addition to the above, units or individuals from the mainland French Army were sometimes posted to service in North Africa, as were detachments of the Gendarmerie and the Tirailleurs Senegalais.


Subsequently "tirailleurs" was used by the French Army as a designation for infantry recruited in the various French colonial territories during the 19th and 20th centuries; or for metropolitan units serving in a light infantry role. The African trialleurs are from Algeria, Marocco, Tunusia and Madagascar.

During the Crimean War the Algerian tirailleurs acquired the nickname of "Turcos" (Turks) by which they were widely known over the next hundred years. The name reportedly arose from comparisons between the Algerian troops and the Turkish allies serving alongside the French and British forces at the siege of Sebastopol

Most of the tirailleur regiments were disbanded as the various French colonies and protectorates achieved independence between 1956 and 1962. There is still one Tirailleur regiment in the modern French Army, which is descended from the Algerian tirailleurs. While these troops are now entirely French, items of the traditional North African uniform are still worn on ceremonial occasions to commemorate the Algerian "Turcos" who served France for over 130 years. The traditions of the tirailleurs Senegalais are maintained by the 21eme Regiment d'infanterie de marine stationed in Frejus, through the 4e Régiment de Tirailleurs Sénégalais of the Second World War


Spahis were light cavalry regiments of the French army recruited primarily from the indigenous populations of Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. First raised in 1831, the Spahis saw extensive service in the conquest of Algeria. Today the French Army retains one Spahi regiment, the 1er Régiment de Spahis Marocains; an armoured unit which saw service in the Gulf War. 1er Spahis are currently based in Valence, Drôme, France.

Senegal also maintains a spahi regiment as a presidential escort, the Red Guard. The first spahis in Senegal were sent in 1843 to deal with an outbreak of tribal conflict. This platoon-sized unit of 25 French and Algerian spahis [2] stayed and began recruiting locally. Senegalese units saw service in Morocco as well as in the various West African campaigns. The troopers were recruited from the inhabitants of Senegal and the French Sudan while their officers were seconded from Algerian Spahi regiments.The Senegalese Spahis were the cadre around which the mounted gendarmerie was formed in 1928. The modern Gendarmerie Nationale of the Republic of Senegal therefore traces its origins to the spahis


Moroccan Goumiers were soldiers who served in auxiliary units attached to the French Army of Africa, between 1908 and 1956. The term Goumier was also occasionally used to designate native soldiers in the French army of the French Sudan and Upper Volta during the colonial era.

With Moroccan independence in 1956, the Goums were incorporated into the new Royal Army of Morocco. Fourteen thousand Moroccan personnel were according transferred from French service.


Méhariste is a French word that roughly translates to camel cavalry. France created a méhariste camel corps as part of the Armée d'Afrique in the Sahara from 1902, replacing regular units of Algerian spahis and tirailleurs earlier used to patrol the desert boundaries. The newly raised Compagnies Méharistes were originally recruited mainly from the Chaamba nomadic tribe and commanded by officers of the French Affaires Indigènes (Native Affairs Bureau).

We suggest you to read document for near past and Que fait l’armee française en Afrique ? book of Raphale Granvaud for more details




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