Rare fact in the French Armed Forces, the affiliations of the 1e RPIMa are various, indirectly related and numerous. The regiment is heir simultaneously to formations of the French Air Force, metropolitan infantry, Troupes coloniales and Troupes de marine.On September 15, 1940: the 1e Compagnie d'Infanterie de l'Air, 1e C.I.A ( 1st Air Infantry Company ) was created in the United Kingdom by Captain Georges Bergé
On April 10, 1941: the 1st Air Infantry Company ( 1e C.I.A ) was reattached to the French Army and named 1er Compagnie Parachutiste ( 1st Parachute Company ).
On September 25, 1941: the 1st Parachute Company became the Peloton Parachutiste du Levant ( Parachtue Platoon of the Levant ) and was attached to the French Air Force.
On October 15, 1941: the unit became by name change the 1er Compagnie de Chasseurs Parachutistes, 1e C.C.P ( 1st Parachute Chasseur Company ).
On January 1, 1942: the unit became the French Squadron of H.Majety's Special Air Service brigade of Major David Stirling
On July 1, 1943; the unit became the 1er Bataillon d'Infanterie de l'Air, 1er B.I.A ( 1st Air Infantry Battalion ).
On November 1943: the 1st battalion was renamed 4e Bataillon d'Infanterie de l'Air, 4e B.I.A ( 4th Air Infantry Battalion )
On July 1, 1944: the 4th battalion was renamed 2e R.C.P S.A.S (2nd SAS Parachute Chasseur Regiment ) or 4th SAS Regiment.
On August 1, 1945: the Parachute Chasseur Regiments integrated fully the French Army. The 3rd Parachute Chasseur Regiment 3e R.C.P or 3rd SAS Regiment was dissolved and the components were transferred to the 2e R.C.P.
The Colonial BattalionsOn February 1, 1946: the 1er Battaillon de Choc S.A.S, 1e B.C-S.A.S ( 1st SAS Choc Battalion ) was created from elements of the 1st Parachute Chasseur Regiment ( 1e R.C.P ) and the 2nd Parachute Chasseur Regiment ( 2e R.C.P ).
On February 23, 1946: the battalion became the 1er Bataillon Parachutiste S.A.S, 1e B.P-S.A.S ( 1st S.A.S Parachute Battalion )
On March 1, 1946: the 2e Battaillon de Choc S.A.S, 2e B.C-S.A.S ( 2nd S.A.S choc battalion ) was created from elements of the 1st Parachute Chasseur Regiment ( 1e R.C.P ) and the 1st Choc Parachute Infantry Regiment ( 1e R.I.C.A.P ).
On September 25, 1947: the two S.A.S Para Battalions regroup and became the 1er Bataillon Parachutiste SAS, 1e B.P-S.A.S ( 1st S.A.S Parachute Battalion )
On January 1, 1948: the battalion became the 1er Bataillon Colonial de Commandos Parachutistes, 1e B.C.C.P ( 1st Colonial Parachute Commando Battalion ).
On July 4, 1948: the 1e B.C.C.P was dissolved.
On December 7, 1949: another 1st Colonial Parachute Commando Battalion ( 1e B.C.C.P ) was created.
On October 1, 1950: the colonial parachute commando became 1er Groupe Colonial de Commandos Parachutistes, 1e G.C.C.P ( 1st Colonial Parachute Commando Group )
On March 1, 1951: the parachute commando group became the 1er Bataillon de Parachutiste Coloniaux, 1e B.P.C ( 1st Colonial Parachute Battalion ).
On January 19, 1952: the 1st Colonial Parachute Battalion, 1e B.P.C is dissolved.
On June 20, 1953: another 1st Colonial Parachute Battalion, 1er B.P.C was created.
The Colonial BrigadesOn July 1, 1946: the 1er Demi-Brigade de Parachutistes SAS, 1er D-B.P.SAS ( 1st SAS Parachute Demi-Brigade ) was created in Indochina from the 1st and 2nd SAS Parachute Battalions.
On October 1, 1947: the Demi-Brigade Coloniale de Commandos Parachutistes D-B.C.C.P ( Colonial Parachute Commando Demi-Brigade ) was created in Bretagne.
On October 23, 1947: the SAS Demi-Brigade became Demi-Brigade Coloniale de Commandos Parachutistes SAS D-B.C.C.P-S.A.S ( SAS Colonial Parachute Commando Demi-Brigade )
On June 1948: the two Demi-Brigades became in Bretagne the 1e D-B.C.C.P and the 2e D-B.C.C.P in Indochina
On February 1, 1955: the 1e D-B.CCP became the Colonial Parachute Brigade ( BPC )
The BrigadeOn February 25, 1958: the B.P.C became the Brigade école des Parachutistes Coloniaux, B.E.P.C ( Colonial Parachute Brigade Instruction Center ).
On December 1, 1958: the B.E.P.C became the Brigade de Parachutistes d'Outre-Mer, B.P.OM ( Parachute Outre-Mer Brigade ).
On November 1, 1960: the B.P.OM became the Brigade Parachutiste d'Infanterie de Marine B.P.I.Ma ( Marine Infantry Parachute Brigade ).
On December 31, 1961: the B.P.I.Ma was dissolved.
The RegimentOn November 1, 1960; the Center of Instruction of the 1st Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment was created at Bayonne.
On January 1, 1973; the 1st Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment, 1er R.P.I.Ma was assigned and tasked with special operations.
Despite of its name, the 1er RPIMa does belong to the French Army. The Naval Infantry background dates back to 1762 when units of the French Army were detached to the French Navy for ship borne and overseas duties.
Heir to the first Colonial Parachute Commando Demi-Brigade which origins date back to World War II. Under the impulsion of Captain George Bergé, the 1st Air Company was created in England on September 15 1940, with parachute units of the Special Air Service (SAS) (1e CCP/SAS created in 1941 in Scotland). This company was engaged in Crete, Libya, Tunisia, Bretagne, Belgium, the Netherlands. The company was then dissolved then redesignated as SAS Parachute Demi-Brigade from 1946 to 1949, then 1st Colonial Parachute Commando Demi-Brigade from 1949 to 1955 in Indochina, then B.P.C in Algeria from 1955 to 1958, the B.C.C.P dissolved and redesingated from 1959 to 1960 G.I.B.P.OM then in 1960 B.P.C.I.Ma and renamed in 1962 1erR.P.I.Ma which maintained the guard of the SAS emblem.
Despite of the designation like all Troupes de Marine units, the 1er RPIMa belongs to the French Army. The Naval Infantry background dates back to 1762 when units of the French Army were detached to the French Navy for ship borne and overseas duties.Septembre 1940: Ringway (England)
1941: Garrison in Beirut then Damascus.
1942: Garrison at Kabrit on the canal de Suez.
1943: Garrison at Camberley, United Kingdom
Following the war, Garrison in France
1960: Creation of the 1eR.P.I.Ma and Garrison at Bayonne
September 1940 : creation and insctruction at Ringway (England).
March 15 1941 : first operation of the Free French Forces in France (Bretagne).
Division of sections, one retained and two other sections destined for the Moyen-Orient.
July 21 1941 : embarkment to the Moyen-Orient, then garrison in Beirut, then in Damascus.
January 2 1942 : section attached to special forces SAS of David Stirling and takes garrison in Kabrit on canal de Suez
June 1942 : operation in Crete then Matouba-Derna, Benina, Barce and others.
July 1942 : operations in Cyrénaïque.
January 1943 : operations in Tunisia.
Spring 1943 : instruction at Camberley (England)
Beginning 1944 : instruction center of French SAS in Scotland.
June 1944 : combined task forces with FFI and 2nd U.S. Division.
August 1944 : operations and SAS participation to the Liberation of Paris.
November 11 1944 : The 2 French SAS regiment parade on the Champs-Élysées in Paris in presence of général de Gaulle following which the 2nd Parachute Chasseur Regiment was bestowed with the Compagnon de la Libération.
December 23 1944 : reinforcements in Ardennes.
February 1945 : regouping in England.
April 1945 : operations in Pays-Bas.
The 1er RPIMa inherited the traditions of the two Free French Special Air Service (SAS) Regiments that served with distinction alongside their British brothers-in-arms of the SAS Brigade during World War II.
On September 15, 1940, General Charles de Gaulle signed the activation order of the 1ère Compagnie d'Infanterie de l'Air des forces françaises libres (1ère CIA) or 1st Free French Airborne Infantry Company under the command of Captain Bergé.
The 1ère CIA started carrying out operational missions by parachute insertion into occupied France in March 1941. The company was then split into two components, a covert action unit used in clandestine operations and a conventional and uniformed company that was sent to North Africa in September 1941 to fight the Axis Forces with the British Forces.
A very good relationship was quickly established between Captain Bergé and Major Stirling, the commander of the newly created Special Air Service (SAS); the French detachment was soon incorporated into the SAS and became the French Squadron. From 1942 to 1943, the French SAS roamed the region, ranging as far as Crete hunting down Axis forces and destroying their aircraft and supply dumps.
In November 1943, the 3ème and 4ème Bataillons d'Infanterie de l'Air were created and incorporated in the SAS Brigade with their British and Belgian counterparts of the 1st and 2nd SAS Regiments.
The Free French SAS took an important part in the liberation of Europe. In Brittany, a little after midnight on D-Day June 6, 1944, Caporal Emile Bouétard (born in Brittany, 1915) was the first killed in action in Plumelec, Morbihan. On August 1, 1944, the 3ème and 4ème Bataillons d'Infanterie de l'Air were renamed 2ème and 3ème Régiments de Chasseurs Parachutistes. As a reward for their bravery, King George VI, awarded the Free French SAS the red beret of the British SAS which replaced the black beret worn until then. As the war drew to a close, 52 French SAS "sticks" (705 men) were parachuted over the Netherlands on April 7, 1945, causing major havoc in the rear areas of German occupation forces and easing pressure on the forward thrust of the 2nd Canadian Army Corps.
On May 8, 1945, the Free French SAS could look back with pride at their achievements. They had been amongst the very first to join Sir David Stirling in North Africa and had taken a major part in the epic battles of the SAS in Africa, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, earning French and foreign awards in so doing (including many British DSOs, MCs and MMs). The regimental colours of the 1er RPIMa have also been decorated with the U.S. Bronze Star Medal, the Dutch Bronzen Leeuw and the Belgian Croix de Guerre. Today, this SAS heritage is still evident through its regimental motto "Qui Ose Gagne" ("Who Dares Wins") and in the awarding of the RAPAS Wings, reminiscent of the wartime SAS "Operational Wings" that can only be awarded to 1er RPIMa operators after they have successfully passed a series of strict selection requirements, including operational deployments.
Between 1945 and 1954 the unit that was later to become the 1er RPIMa after a series of name changes, took part in the war in Indochina, performing several of the more than 160 combat jumps carried out by French paratroopers during that conflict. After the war, the regiment underwent structural changes and became a training depot for the entire colonial airborne forces. As such, it did not take part in the Algerian conflict.
In 1960 1er RPIMa is created. It remained in the training role until 1974 when the 1er RPIMa was transformed into a Special Forces unit, a role it still has today.
Its mission has been mostly to support France's interests in Africa between 1974 and 1981, the 1er RPIMa underwent another mission change, it then focused on Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols for almost a decade, while it still used its training skills training friendly forces abroad.
The 80s and 90s were busy years for the regiment; these were the days when it deployed dozens of times to various hotspots on the planet. While engaged in Operation Desert Storm, the 1er RPIMa lost two of its men in Iraq in 1991.
A year later, the creation of the French Special Operations Command (Commandement des Opérations Spéciales, COS) led to a major shake-up of French special forces units in order to incorporate what had been learned in the First Gulf War. As part of this process, in 1997, the nucleus of what was to become the army's BSFT (Brigade des Forces Spéciales Terre) (Special Forces Brigade Land) was created and the 1er RPIMa became its core unit. All the while, the regiment participated in operations in the Balkans and in Africa; it was specifically involved in stalking war criminals in Bosnia, leading to several successful arrests of individuals indicted for war crimes.
Part of the French Army Special Forces Brigade (BFST), the 1er RPIMa is a modern, highly skilled and experienced Special Forces unit organized along company lines. The main strength of the regiment lies in its three RAPAS companies (RAPAS meaning Airborne Reconnaissance and Special Action) each specialised in a specific field such as HAHO/HALO, Counter-Terrorism, amphibious, jungle, mountain or motorized patrols operations and its RAPAS Signal company dedicated to the C3 (Command, Control and Communications) support of Special Operations.
The 1er RPIMa also fields a Training and Operations company tasked with providing selection, basic and continuation training of the unit's manpower and a Logistics company which supports the regiment in its daily and operational missions.CTLO (Counter-terrorism and hostage rescue teams (InvEX))
GDC (Bodyguards Garde du Corps)
THP (Snipers Tireurs Haute Précision)
RCO (Paratrooper – Rapas Chuteurs Opérationnels)
PRS (motorized patrols Patrouilles de Reconnaissances Speciales(PAT-SAS))
RPO (Combat divers Rapas Plongeurs Offensifs)
Mountain/arctic, desert and jungle warfare
Explosives and demolitions
Due to its long history with the British Special Air Service much of the 1er RPIMa core aspects are based upon the British SAS. Each company specialises in a particular area such as maritime, air and parachuting operations, mobility.Four main RAPAS (standing for Airborne Research and Special Action) combat companies:
1e Compagnie (Paratroopers HAHO, HALO / Combat divers/ Urban warfare, counter-terrorism and bodyguards)
2e Compagnie (Mountain, arctic, desert and jungle warfare)
3e Compagnie (Motorized patrols)
4e Compagnie (Recon, acquisition, training)
There is also one Command and Logistics Company and a Training and Operations company which is in charge of providing the selection, initial and continuation training.
Each company is split in RAPAS sections. Each section includes 30 men.
The 1er RPIMa is based in Bayonne, what makes possible amphibious and mountain training. It is also ideal as it is very close to the Centre d'Entrainement Adaptee (CTA), Europe's largest and most modern Close Quarter Battle (CQB) facility and to the dedicated assets of the French army's Special Forces Aviation Detachment (DAOS) and airborne school (ETAP), two establishments that are essential to its training and operations.
The main weapon used by the 1er RPIMa is the HK416 5.56 assault rifle, instead of the FA-MAS. Besides this , SIG 550, M4 and FN SCAR assault rifles are also used by French Army Special Forces. Sometimes M203 or HK69 grenade launchers are also used. For CQB the MP5 series and FN P90 are used as the main weapons , the 10.5 inches version of the HK416 is also sometimes used. The Glock 17 and H&K USP are the standard sidearm carried by the soldiers. The ARWEN 37 mm grenade launcher is used in CQB work to launch CS gas into buildings. The Benelli M4 shotgun is also used during CQB, to take down doors. FN Minimi is used as light machine gun, 5,56mm and 7,72 mm, and Snipers use the H&K 417 or Hecate II rifles. Sometimes MILAN missiles have used in combat to provide fire support.
They wear standard French camouflage and webbing, except when doing CT/HR/CQB work. CQB kit includes a black balaclava, black nomex coveralls, non-slip boots, special webbing and holsters, medical kit for teams medics, gas masks, and special communications equipment.
VPS Panhard VPS(Véhicule Patrouille SAS), based on the Mercedes-Benz 270 CDI G-Class 4x4 light tactical vehicle, is the vehicle used by French Army Special Forces. It is a rapidly deployable vehicle capable of long-duration missions in extremes of climate. An armored floor provides anti-landmine protection to the crew and VPS is air transportable by C-160 Transall or C-130 Hercules. In the French Army the VPS is equipped with 360° ring-mount over the rear body which is armed with a Browning 12.7mm heavy machine gun or Gatling machine gun. One more 7.62mm machine is mounted on swivel station at the front of the crew compartment which is operated by the vehicle commander.
The 1er RPIMa is tasked with several jobs. These include: Bodyguarding VIPs in hotzones, Direct Action, Reconnaissance, Sabotage, Unconventional Warfare and Hostage rescue. While their name states they are Marine Infantry, they are in fact Army and have no amphibious training.
The 1er RPIMa relies on a number of skills to successfully carry out its missions. Most skills are either regiment or brigade-specific and need constant honing to be kept at the desired level of proficiency. They can be divided into several generic fields:The RAPAS (Airborne Reconnaissance and Special Action) basic skills
The RAPAS skills are given to Enlisted men and NCOs after they have completed a series of organic and basic regimental courses
Basic training leading to the first rung of the RAPAS ladder is the elementary RAPAS technical certificate which is 6 months long.
RAPAS training covers all the basics of the SF operator's functions. It is then complemented by specific courses (DZ and LZ marking, basic and advanced CQB, sniping…)
A RAPAS group is led by a senior NCO or a Lieutenant. NCOs are generally former enlisted men who have risen from the ranks of the regiment while officers come from various specialized schools (mostly Infantry, Armour and Engineer) before following a specific course complemented by on job training within the groups.
When fully qualified and operational, a RAPAS team member has reached the rank of Caporal-chef (Master Corporal), and has been in the regiment for five years and spent more than two thirds of his time in the regiment following courses and has been deployed on real-world operations probably once a year.
Parachute operations: each member of the regiment is static-line parachute qualified using some specific low-altitude (125 meters) dropping techniques. The 1er RPIMa can also field different teams proficient in both HAHO and HALO techniques. Each company has a HALO capability.
Helicopter operations: Fast-roping and helicopter rappelling, special purpose infiltration and extraction rigs, LZ marking, special operation procedures, helicopter fire support, helicopter-borne sniper support, light helicopter insertion and extraction
Air delivery: the 1er RPIMa is unique in the way it has integrated air delivery component with teams able to rig and airdrop light to heavy loads and pallets in support of special operations from cargo aircraft of dedicated special operations division of the French air force.
Open circuit breathing apparatus: the 1er RPIMa can field a complete open air circuit (scuba) team for beach recce or riverine operations using light crafts, including kayaks
Closed circuit breathing apparatus: the 1er RPIMa can field a complete closed circuit team for covert underwater missions. This team is not a combat diver team; its purpose is to use waterways as another infiltration method.
True to their SAS ancestors, the 1er RPIMa has always maintained a motorized patrol capability. It currently centres on PATSAS patrols that are tasked with developing and refining the methods and equipment needed for such operations. In addition to the PATSAS, each RAPAS company fields several motorised RAPAS groups. The mounts of motorised patrols are modified Peugeot P4s, Mercedes VPS and ACMAT VLRA trucks, all fitted with machine guns, automatic cannons, mortars, AGLs or ATGWs.
The Special Recce Patrols (PRS): Having understood with time and experience that it is always better to act on intelligence which had been gathered and analyzed by operators that intimately know which method of operation would be best used by the action groups, the 1er RPIMa has decided to include in its specialized teams the PRS concept. The PRS are infiltrated ahead of the action teams and provide real time intelligence on the target area. The information gathered by the PRS is then transmitted by a variety of secure means to the command level which then disseminates it to the action groups.
The 1er RPIMa can field several CT teams, all backed by specialized sniper teams proficient in calibers ranging from 5.56 mm to 12.7 mm (.50 cal)
All ranks of the company are CT trained
The Regiment benefits from proximity to the Centre d'Entraînement Adapté (CTA), Europe's largest and most modern CQB facility (CQB = Close Quarters Battle or Killing House). The CTA is located in Pau and offers unmatched live firing capabilities for all sorts of CT scenarios.
The CQB skills are kept honed to a high level thanks to regular training in the CTA and cross training with French and Allied CT units.
The 1er RPIMa has been involved in bodyguard duties for the last 25 years.
The Regiment only provides Bodyguard teams to high-ranking officials at theater level.
A fully qualified RAPAS team member is also Bodyguard qualified
Jungle, desert and mountain operations
So as to prepare RAPAS units of the 1er RPIMa for operations over difficult terrain it can use French and foreign training centers on the world
Mountain, jungle and desert training exercises are scheduled every year
RAPAS team members are sent regularly as permanent instructors to jungle and desert schools in French Guyana or friendly African countries
Every year, the Regiment sends some of its members to foreign schools to improve its tactics and procedures in hostile environments (jungle, bush…)
A regular influx of experienced NCOs volunteering from the French 27th Mountain Infantry Brigade keeps the Regiment up-to-date on modern mountaineering techniques
Officers and NCOs joining the regiment have to attend the same selection and training as enlisted personnel.
Enlisted soldiers in the French Army can try to join super RPIMA, between their first and third years of active duty.
First step is a profile selection: Candidates will be selected regarding unit requirements and personal file (e.g. if the regiment needs some mountain specialists, they will ask for more mountain troopers to come for the selection). Candidates selected must attend the two weeks basic airborne training prior the SF training, for those who are not already enlisted in an airborne regiment.
Second step of selection is "adaptation training" and "stage commando" lasting twelve weeks. Candidates must be above average to continue the training. Most cases of failure and RTU occur during this phase.
The last step of selection is the "stage CTE RAPAS" lasting six months. After completion of this "stage", candidates are fully assigned to the regiment as special force soldier. They will attend additional training to become specialists (bodyguards, pathfinders, etc.)
The anniversary is celebrated for combats in Bazeilles, the village which was apprehended and abandoned four consecutive times under orders, respectively on August 31 and September 1 1870.Et au Nom de Dieu, vive la coloniale !
In the Name of God, vive la coloniale !
The Marsouins and the Bigors have for Saint, God. This war calling concludes intimate ceremonies which part life in the regiments. Often also at origin as an act of grace to Charles de Foucauld.
Saint-Michael: paratrooper regiment, the 1er R.P.I.Ma celebrates each year on September 29, the Patron-Saint of Paratroopers. A celebration with lieu of various manifestations in presence of veterans.
« Who dares wins » is the general motto of the British SAS, translated in French to « Qui ose gagne ».
The list of operations shows a world-wide commitment since it ranges from Afghanistan to Africa and the Balkans.Crete 1942
Sud Tunisien 1943
Ardennes Belges 1945
2011 Libyan civil war
The most decorated French and allied unit of the Second World WarCroix de la Légion d'honneur.
Ordre de la Libération as heir to the 2nd Parachute Chasseur Regiment of the Air Force, the regiment bears wearing the decoration bestowed on November 11, 1944 by général Charles de Gaulle, under the Arc de Triomphe at Paris to the 2nd Parachute Chasseur Regiment 2e R.C.P of the Air Force.
Croix de guerre 1939-1945 with 6 palms.
Croix de guerre des Théâtres d'opérations extérieurs (T.O.E) with 3 palms.
Croix de la Valeur militaire avec 3 palms.
The men of this regiment bear wearing the Fourragere:The Fourragère bearing colors of the Légion d'Honneur 1re Brigade de Parachutistes Coloniaux
The fourragere bearing colors of the Croix des T.O.E
The fourragere bearing colors of the Valeur Militaire
The fourragere bearing colors of the Croix de la libération (since June 18, 1996).( that of the 2e R.C.P).