Special Operations: Massive Expansion in France


July 2, 2007: France is increasing its counter-terror commando force, the GIGN (Groupe d'Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale) from 120 troops, to 420, over the next three years. GIGN was formed in 1973, in response to the Palestinian terrorist attack on athletes at the 1972 Olympic games in Germany. Since then, GIGN has taken part in over a thousand operations, which has led to the rescue over 500 hostages, the arrest of over a thousand terrorists and criminals, and the killing of twelve terrorists. Five commandos have died in action, and over fifty wounded. GIGN is similar to the U.S. Delta Force and the British SAS. Currently, GIGN can field four teams, each with fifteen operators.

GIGN recruits are all national policemen with at least five years experience, and able to meet high physical and mental qualifications. There is a ten month training course before they get assigned to a team. The GIGN teams train constantly, and are called on for an operation, on average, 5-10 times a year. Adding another dozen teams will enable GIGN to respond to a possible increase in Islamic terrorism over the next few years. The biggest problem will be training. Currently, only about eight new recruits are added each year. To expand the force in three years, about twenty times as many recruits will have to under go training a year.


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