The Spanish Legion was modelled on the French Foreign Legion. Its purpose was to provide a corps of professional troops to fight in Spain's colonial campaigns in North Africa, in place of conscript troops that were proving ineffective.
Under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel Juan Yagüe the Army of Africa played an important part in the Spanish Civil War on the Nationalist side. The professionalism of both the Legion and the Regulares gave Franco's Nationalists a significant initial advantage over the less well trained Republican forces.
Both the Nationalists and the loyalist Republican troops used foreign volunteers. In the case of the Republicans the International Brigades were organized, recruiting over 40,000 people. These proved to be the elite of the Republican forces and as such were stationed at the toughest sectors, and were often involved in the most desperate attacks.