French Special Forces Overview Escadron Parachutiste d'Intervention de la Gendarmarie Nationale
Commandment des Operations Speciales (COS)
Headquarterd at Taverny, COS (Special Operations Command) is joint service unit that draws on the special operations forces of the three armed services. Currently COS is composed of the following units:
Armee de Terre-(Army) Units
The 1er Regiment Parachutiste d'Infanterie de Marine (1er RPIMa)-(1st Marine Parachute Infantry Regiment)- is the French Army's primary special operations unit, and is the French equivalent to the US Army's Special Forces, or British SAS. The unit is tasked with conducting three primary types of missions: special instruction/assistance (Foreign Internal Defense); direct action (DA); and intelleligence gathering. It is also capable of conducting counter terrorist (CT) operations in conjuction with GIGN.
The Detachment ALAT Operations Speciales (DAOS) (French Army Light Aviation Special Operations Aviation Detachment) -
is the French Army's special operations aviation helicopter unit. DAOS is currently composed of two special operations helicopter
squadrons. The first squadron operates Puma and Cougar transport helicopters, while the second squadron operates Gazelle
gunships armed with 20mm canonons. Future plans call for the unit to be equipped with the new Eurocopter Tiger gunship.
The Groupement Special Autonome (GSA)-(Special Autonomous Group) is a separate subcommand operating within COS. Formed from the1er RPIMa and DAOS, GSA operates in a manner similar to USASOC (US Army Special Operations Command), providing a unified command headquarters, and standardizing training procdeures for both units.
Marine Nationale-(Navy) Units
The "Commandos Marine" of the Navy's Commandement des Fusiliers Marins Commandos (COFUSCO)-(Naval Rifle Commandos) provide COS with a naval special operations component.Currently four naval assault commandos; the Commando Hubert combat diver unit; and the GCMC naval counter terrorist unit assigned to COS.
The four assault commandos are:
At one time there was also a reserve unit, Commando Francois, but it appears to have been disbanded. Each assault commando is composed of approximately 80 men, who are divided into four sections (Command, Support, Assault, or Reconnaissance). The assault commandos are tasked with performing beach recon, intelligence gathering, ship assaults, small boat operations, POW rescue, CSAR, and acting as shock troops during amphibious operations.
The GCMC (Goupement de Combat en Milieu Clos)-(Close Quarters Combat Group) is a 17 man force is tasked with conducting maritime counter terrorist (CT) missions. GCMC operates in close conjunction with Commando Hubert's CT team (B-section).
Commando Hubert CASM (Commmando Hubert: Commando D'Action Sous Marine-Comando Hubert: Underwater Action Commando) is the French Navy's combat diver unit, and performs missions similar to the US Navy SEAL's, or British SBS. Commando Hubert is divided into two companies. The first company is composed of 50 men divided into four sections:
The second company provides both maintenance and signal support to Commando Hubert's operational units. Future plans call for an E-section to be formed using assets drawn from A-section, and the second company. E-section will specialize in boat support with the units Hurricane RIBs.
Armee de L'Air (Air Force) Units
The French Air Force contributes several units to COS. The first of these units is the DOS (Division Des Operations Speciales)-(Special Operations Division). DOS is the Air Force's fixed wing special operations aviation unit. The unit is uses standard C-160 Transall transport aircraft. Specially selected pilots, and air crews are trained in at low level flying techniques, and conducting operatins while wearing night vision goggles (NVGs).
The second Air Force unit assigned to COS is the Escadrille Des Helicopteres Speciaux(EHS)-(Special Helicopter Squadron).
The EHS is the French Air Force's special operations helicopter unit. The squadron is equipped with Puma transport, and Puma
gunship helicopters. It performs both special operations, and RESCO- (Combat Search and Rescue/ CSAR) missions in support
of French military forces.
Another Air Force unit that is capable of providing aviation support to COS units is the CEIT (Centre d'Instruction des Equipages de Transport - Airlift Crew training Center). Specially trained CEIT C-130 flight crews and aircraft are are standby to assist COS operations if necesasary. The unit is trained in conducting low light, night and low level operations, and works externsively with COS units to help standardize operational procedures.
The Commando Parachutiste De l'Air10 (CPA 10)(Commando Parachute Group No. 10) is the third Air Force unit assigned to COS. Composed of a specially trained group of French "Air Commandos", the unit performs missions similar to those conducted by USAF Special Tactics units- (Recherche et Sauvetage au Combat(RESCO-CSAR), airfield seizure, forward air control, laser target designation, pathfinding, and airfield defense).
COS also maintains a large support staff, a research and development branch, and group of reservist who trained in conducting psychological and civil affairs operations.
In addtion to COS each armed service, the Foreign Legion, the National Police, the Gendarmarie, and the DGSE maintain a number of specialist units for conducting special missions, and counter terrorist operations.
Armee de Terre units
13eme Regiment de Dragons Parachutistes(13eme RDP)-(13th Regiment of Dragon Parachutists)- is the French army's Long Range Recon Patrol (LRRP) unit. It's currently composed of seven squadrons, and operates under the control of the Brigade de Renseignment et de Guerre Electronique(BGRE)-(Electronic Warfare and Intelligence Brigade). The unit specializes in operations in Africa, but has recently started focusing on operations in Europe. They are also tasked with supporting COS during joint operations.
The 11eme Divsion Parachutistes (11eme DP)-(11th Parachute Division)Groupement de Commandos Parachutistes(GCP)-(Commando Parachute Group) is specially trained unit of approxiamately 180 para-commandos. The unit is composed of the division's former Commando de Renseignement et d'Action Profondeur (CRAP)(Deep Recon and Action Commando)teams. The GCP performs LRRP missions, pathfinding, DA, and in extremis hostage rescue operations.
The 11 DP's 17eme Regiment de Genie Parachutiste (17eme RGP)-(17th Parachute Engineer Regiment contains several elite sub-units, which are grouped into two platoons within the support company.
The 17eme's Section de Rechercheet d'Actions Special (SRAS)-(Special Actions and Search Section) is divided into two sections, the Detachment de Liaison et de Reconnaissance de Genie (DLRG)- (Engineer Recon and Liaison Detachment), and the Groupe de Recherche Specialise (GRS)-(Specialized Search Group).
The GRS is subdivided into two units.The first is the Neutralisation et Destruction des Explosifs (NEDEX)-(Neutralization and Destruction of Explosives) section which performs EOD duties for the unit. GRS has provided EOD teams to support a number of COS operations in both Africa and Europe. The second unit is Unite Cynophile (Dog Unit), which uses specially trained dogs to detect explosives.
The second unit is the Section Natique d'Intervention Offensive (SNIO)-(Offensive Nautical Intervention Section), which a parachute and combat diver trained unit of engineers. they conduct beach recon, engineer recon, and direct action operations. They have also operated in support of COS.
The 2 Regiment Parachutiste d'Infantry de Marine (2er RPIMa) also maintains a small Platoon de Commandos Parachutiste(PCP)-(Parachute Commando Platoon) within it its headquarters company.
Marine Nationale units
The Groupe de Plongeurs-Demineurs (GPD)-(Mine Clearnace Divers Group) is the French Navy's EOD unit. They are alos capble of operating in support of French maritime CT units.
Legion Entrangere units
2er Regiment Etranger de Parachutists (2er REP)-(2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment)- is one of the French military's quick reaction units. It operates under the administrative of the 11 DP. Each of its combat companies specializes in a differant type of combat.
1st Co.- Anti-tank, urban, and night combat
The Detachment d'Intervention Operationale Subaquatique(DINOPS)-(Underwater Operations and Intervention Detachment) is a parachute, and combat diver trained sapper unit assigned to the 6eme Regiment Etranger de Genie(6e REG)- (6th Foreign Enginner Regiment). The unit conducts underwater demolition operations; EOD operations; sabotage operations; beach recon; engineer recon; and assists other during river crossings.
Gendarmerie Special Units
The Gendarmarie nationale maintains three specialized units that fall under the control of the Groupement Speciale d'Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale(GSIGN)-(Special Intervetion Group of the National Gendermarie).
TheGroupement d'Intervention de la Gendarmarie Nationale(GIGN)-(National Gendarmerie Intervention Group) is the French national counter terrorist unit, and is widely considerd one the world's primer CT units.
The Escadron Parachutiste d'Intervention de la Gendarmarie Nationale(EPIGN)-(National Gendarmerie Parachute Intervention Squadron) is less well known than GIGN, but no less capable. The unit is composed of specially trained Gendarmarie military police. EPIGN supports GIGN, and conducts independant CT and counter insurgency(CI) operations.
TheGroupe de Securite du President de la Republique(GSPR)-(President of the Republic Security Group) is the French Secert Service, and is responsible for protecting the French President. The unit was originally formed from members of GIGN.
National Police Special Units
Reaction, Assistance, Intervention Dissauder (RAID)-(Reaction, Assistance, Intervention, Dissuasion) is the French National Police unit. The unit has been very actice over the last few years, dealing with a wave of Islamic sponcerd terrorist attacks on French soil.
Groupement Intervention Police Nationale(GIPN)-(National Police Intervention Group) The National police maintain nine "intervention groups" throughout the country, and French territoies. They are responsible for handling viloent crimes such as, hostage situations, bank robberies, barricaded suspects, and other situations that normal officers are not trained to handle.
Direction General de la Securite Exterieure (DGSE)
The DGSE(General Directorate for External Security) maintains several units and training centers throughout France. The units operate under the control of DGSE's Division Action (Action Divsion), and are responsible for conducting special operations in support of French intelligence and security agencies; counducting counter terrorist opertions; providing training to governments allied to France; and providing support to paramilitary forces operating under French control. The Action Divsion is divided in to three branches:
Air Support is provided by the Escadrille du Groupe Aerien Mixte 56 (GAM 56)-(Mixed Air Squadron 56).
In 1995 the 11eme Regiment Parachutiste de Choc (11e Choc)-(11th Shock Parachute Regiment) was disbanded, and its tasks divided among three "stations" operating under DGSE control.
The Centre Parachutiste d'Entrainement aux Operations Maritimes(CPEOM)-(Parachute and Maritime Operations Training Center)- is DGSE's maritime operations unit.