France's 1er RPIMa
France's 1er RPIMa
Based in Bayonne
Known also as: Premier Regiment de Parachutistes d'Infranterie de Marine or 1st Parachute Regiment, Marine Infantry .
The 1er RPIMa is part of a larger Division, the 11th Parachute Division. The 11th Parachute Division is similar to that of the old British 5 Airborne Brigade. It has two Brigades, and under those are 7 Battalions (although called Regiments by the French). Two stick out more so than others, these are the 2eme REP (the Legion's Parachute Regiment) and the 1er RPIMa. Although the other Regiments report to their Brigades, the 1er RPIMa reports directly to the 11th Parachute Division. It is given a more "special forces" type role then other Regiments. This could be due to the fact that the modern 1er RPIMa is actually a descendant of the French SAS units set up in France during WWII to help the British SAS fight off the Nazis. The French SAS was the product of the split in the French people (those who sided with the Nazis and those who didn't). Some of the "Free French" or French Resistence were trained by the British SAS and formed into small "special" teams. These teams were then tasked with missions such as to sabotage a rail way.
The 1er RPIMa has developed into France's elite Special Operations unit. The 1er RPIMa has now been tasked with Counterterrorist and Hostage Rescue missions outside (and maybe inside) France. Although GIGN has been the main unit for this; they have slowly been only allowed to operate inside France, with the belief that police shouldn't operate outside their own country. This is traditionally a military role. GIGN however did operate outside the country such as in Somalia. This role has now been given to 1er RPIMa, and GIGN will continue to operate in France. However, these two units still train together quiet often along with other units such as RAID,2eme REP, and CONFUSCO.
The Paras of the 1er RPIMa are also tasked with other jobs as well. These include:
-Bodyguarding VIPs in hotzones
While many of the 1er RPIMa operations remain classified it is probably safe to assume that a small number have been deployed whenever other parts of the 11th Parachute Division have been used in a conflict. The elements of the Division have been deployed to places such as Bosnia, Kosovo, Chad, Lebanon, and a few others (currently looking for more).
While their name states they are Marine Infantry, they are in fact Army and have no amphibious training (except the 1er RPIMa, which recieves some amphibious training). After one joins the French Army and volunteers for Airborne School at Pau, he may then be excepted into a Parachute Regiment. If he wishes to join the 1er RPIMa it is on to the French Commando School for additional training in Special Operations skills. Many Americans (esp. members of the NG LRSUs) also attend the French Commando school.
The main weapon used by the 1er RPIMa is the FAMAS 5.56 assault rifle. For CQB the MP-5 series (esp the MP-5SD) is used as the main weapons. The Beretta 9mm is the standard sidearm carried by the soldiers. The ARWEN 37 mm grenade launcher is used in CQB work to launch CS gas into buuildings. The Remington 12 gauge pump shotgun is also used during CQB, to take down doors. They wear standard French camoflauge and webbing, except when doing CT/HR/CQB work. CQB kit includes a black balaclava, black nomex coveralls, non-slip boots (such as Hi-Tech), special webbing and holsters, medical kit (for teams medics), gas masks, and special communications equipment. French Paras all wear the traditional red beret (except for the Legion 2eme REP) of Airborne Forces. The unit is believed to have about 300 men assigned to it.