An Overview of French Special Forces
The french special forces are under the command of C.O.S. (Commandement des Operations Speciales = Special Operations Command). This command (formed after the Gulf War) comprises unit from both Army, Navy, and Air Force. The COS is under the direct control of Joint armies (Army, Navy, Air Force, Gendarmerie) Chief of Staff. One of his other combined commands is the DRM (Direction des Renseignements Militaires=DIA).
- Army: The 1er RPIMa (Regiment de Parachutistes d'Infanterie de Marine),which is very similar to the SAS. Indeed, their traditions come from the french SAS units of the WW2. Their missions are: intelligence (LRRP's), special operations (like Green berets), and anti-terrorist ops(with the GIGN).They have buggies, HAHO, HALO...
- Navy: The GROUFUMACO (Groupement des Fusiliers-Marins Commandos = Marine Commando Team Command). They are similar to the SBS and SEALs. This Group is made of four assault commandos (=teams or companies), plus a special commando of nageurs de combat (underwater swimmer): the Commando HUBERT. The names of the four commandos are: JAUBERT, TREPEL, De PENFENTENYO, and MONFORT. Their missions are the same than the SEAL and the SBS. Moreover, they often train together and exchange people.
- Air Force: The GFCA (Groupement des Fusiliers Commandos de l'Air) has some units. Dedicated to CombatSAR and in the Laser Illumination operations. For instance, in Bosnia, French Air Force commandos launched 2 operations to rescue the crew of a Mirage2000Nk2 shot down over Pale. Some of them are HAHO and HALO qualified. In fact,they are also similar to the USAF Parajumpers. French Combat Search and Rescue aircraft
For the end, the Gendarmerie Nationale and the GIGN. The special forces of the Gendarmerie are in the GSIGN(Groupement Special d'Intervention de la Gendarmerie Natonale).The GSIGN has 3 companies:
- GIGN (Groupe d'Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale),with 87 gendarmes.It is commanded by a commandant(major).
- GSPR (Groupe de Securite du President de la Republique) who protects the president = Secret Service.
- EPIGN (Escadron Parachutiste d'Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale).