The French are bested in Indochina and a unit of paratroopers, led by Lt. Col. Pierre Raspeguy, is returning to France in 1954 after the disastrous defeat at Dienbienphu. The ship stops at Algiers where Lt. Ben Mahidi disembarks to visit his family. When Raspeguy arrives in France, he takes up with the Countess de Clairefons, a rich countess who was widowed when her general husband was killed in Asia. Raspeguy is well bellow her station but the attraction is such that she gets him posted to Algeria where she hopes he can raise his ranks from lieutenant colonel to general. If he comes back as a general, she will marry him. Raspeguy takes over a raggedy unit and convinces his two wartime comrades, Capt. Philippe Esclavier and Capt. Boisfeuras, to help him get the rag-tags into shape. Raspeguy is shocked to discover that Ben Mahidi has joined the Arab terrorists who are conducting a campaign to get the French out of Algeria...