Wikipedia: Spahis (French pronunciation: [spa.i]) were light cavalry regiments of the French army recruited primarily from the indigenous populations of Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. Prior to 1914 there were four regiments of Spahis in the French Army, three based in Algeria and one in Tunisia. During their period as mounted cavalry the Spahis comprised for the most part Arab and Berber troopers commanded by French officers. This division was not absolute however and there were always a certain number of French volunteers in the ranks (for example, the later well known lyricist Raymond Asso was a Spahi between 1916 and 1919). In addition, a fixed number of commissioned positions up to the level of captain were reserved for Muslim officers. NCOs were both French and Muslim. Spahis were sent to France at the outbreak of war in August 1914. They saw service during the opening period of mobile warfare but inevitably their role diminished with the advent of trench warfare. During World War I the number of units increased with the creation of Moroccan Spahi regiments and the expansion of the Algerian arm. By 1918 there were seven Spahi regiments then in existence, all having seen service on the Western Front, in addition a detached squadron had served in Palestine against the Ottoman Empire.