Commandement des Fusiliers Marins Commandos
The "Marine Commandos" of COFUSCO (Commandement des Fusiliers Marins Commandos) provide the French Navy with an elite special operations strike force. COFUSCO currently makes up the naval component of COS , and conducts operations in support of French naval and intelligence services.
During WWII the Free French government raised a number of elite and special operations units to strike at Nazi forces occupying Europe. One of these units was the 1ere Cie. de Fusiliers-Marins Commandos, which consisted of a group of former French naval personnel. Commanded by Commandant Philippe Kieffer, the unit was trained by British Commandos to conduct raids, amphibious operations, and reconnaissance missions along the European coastline.
Upon completion of their training the men were assigned to the French troop of No.10 Inter-Allied (I-A) Commando. Later a second French troop, NO. 8 troop, was raised and added to the Commando. The two units were used as the core of the 1er Bataillon Fusiliers Marins Commandos. The unit conducted a number of operations though out the war. One of their more memorable operations is depicted in the film " The Longest Day".
Between 1945 and 1947 six Commandos were raised and given the names of former Commando officers that had been killed in action. There was also a small unit raised late in war. Known as Commando Pochardier, after its commander at the time, the unit was slated for service in France's South East Asian colonies. The war ended before the unit could deploy and it was tasked with reoccupying French Indochina.
During the French Indochina war the various Marine Commandos operated along the Annon coast, in the Mekong Delta, and in Tonkin. The Commandos conducted raids and amphibious operations against the Viet Minh guerrilla strongholds though out French territory.
In 1953 Commando Hubert was converted into a combat diver unit while Commando Treppel and De Penfentenyo were deployed to Algeria. Commando Francois was converted to a reserve unit. After France's defeat by Viet Minh forces the Commandos were redeployed to Algeria. Upon establishing a new base of operations, the commandos immediately commenced combat operations against communist backed guerrillas; fighting for an independent Algeria.
While conducted combat operations in Algeria, Commandos Hubert, De Penfentenyo, Jaubert, and Treppel were deployed to support the Anglo-French assault on the Suez Canal. With international pressure building to withdraw the invasion force, the commandos were forced to return to their Algerian base. Upon their return to Algeria, the commandos continued to conduct operations until France's withdrawal from Algeria in 1962.
Since taking up residence in France, COFUSCO units have participated in every French military deployment. The assault commandos and Commando Hubert have been extremely active, with Commando Hubert undertaking a number of operations for the DGSE (
The French Foreign intelligence service
). COFUSCO security units accompany French naval units deploying to overseas ports and secure French naval facilities against attack.
COFUSCO has under gone various reorganizations, and name changes over the years, gaining its current designation in 1983. COFUSCO is based at Lorient, and operates under the direct control of the Navy Chief of Staff and consists of the following units: Four active (Trepel, Jaubert, de Monfort, and Penfentenyo) assault commandos unit, a combat diver unit ( Commando Hubert ) and a maritime Counter Terrorism (CT) team ( GCMC ). The assault commandos, GCMC, and Commando Hubert are COFUSCO's special operations component, and operate under the control of COS (the French Special Operations Command). At one time there was a reserve commando (Francois), but apparently this unit has been disbanded.
The assault commandos are composed of approximately 80 men and are subdivided into four sections. Each section specializes in conducting a specific type of operation: assault, beach recon, HALO HAHO , small boat, handling, combat diving, heavy weapons, sniping, etc. Teams from the various sections may be combined to execute a particular mission, depending on the circumstances.
All aspiring Commandos are drawn from volunteers serving in French Naval units. The troops under go an extensive four-month training and selection course at Lorient, on the coast of France. Upon successfully completing the basic selection course, the trainee will then undertake the French basic airborne course. Once this training is completed any survivors will receive a month of intermediate commando training. This training includes instruction in cliff assaults, rappelling, field training, and intensified physical conditioning. The final stage of training consists of instruction in conducting amphibious operations and small boat handling, while some men are selected to attend the French Combat Diver school.
The Commandos have participated in numerous combat operations over the past few decades. Commandos have supported French peace-keeping operations, and conducted military interventions France's former African colonies.
The Commandos basically have access to any weapon, or equipment on the open market today. Their armory is usually stocked with HK MP-5 series SMGs, the US produced M-16 family of weapons, French produced FAMAS rifles, Swiss manufactured SG- 540 assault rifles, Remington 870 shotguns, various sniper rifles, 60mm mortars, Milan Anti-Tank missiles, US M-203 40mm grenade launchers, and Belgian designed Minimi (US M-249) 5.56mm LMGs.