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|1st Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment|
|1er Régiment de Parachutistes d'Infanterie de Marine|
|Active||September 15, 1940- present|
|Branch||Armée de Terre|
o Direct action
o Special reconnaissance
o Foreign internal defense
o Unconventional warfare
o Hostage rescue
o Personnel recovery
o Humanitarian missions
o Information operations
|Size||865 authorized personnel (2017)|
|Part of||French Army Special Forces Command|
|Motto(s)||Qui Ose Gagne|
(Who Dares Wins)
|Engagements||World War II|
First Indochina War
Lebanese Civil War
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Enduring Freedom
Global War on Terrorism (2001-present)
The 1st Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment (French: 1er Régiment de Parachutistes d'Infanterie de Marine, 1er R.P.I.Ma) is one of three regiments (1er R.P.I.Ma, 13e Régiment de Dragons Parachutistes (13e R.D.P), 4e R.H.F.S) in the French Army Special Forces Command (COM FST).
Heir to the traditions of the paratroopers of the Special Air Service of Free France and French Indochina, the regiment is the only French unit in mainland France to use the motto Qui ose gagne, translated from the British Army SAS motto Who Dares Wins.
Quite unusually for the French Armed Forces, the affiliations of this unit are various, not directly related to each other, and numerous. The regiment is heir simultaneously to formations of the French Air Force, mainland infantry, Troupes coloniales and Troupes de marine.
Despite its name, the 1er RPIMa is part of the French Army, like other Marine units. 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.
It is the heir to the first Colonial Parachute Commando Demi-Brigade, whose origins date back to World War II. Under the command of Captain Georges Bergé, the 1st Air Company was created in England on September 15, 1940 with parachute units of the Special Air Service (SAS). The 1e CCP/SAS was created in 1941 in Scotland. From 1942 to 1944, this company was engaged in Crete, Libya, Tunisia, Brittany, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
Afterwards, the company was dissolved and re-designated as an SAS Parachute Demi-Brigade from 1946 to 1949, then 1st Colonial Parachute Commando Demi-Brigade from 1949 to 1955 in Indochina. It was classified as B.P.C in Algeria from 1955 to 1958, the B.C.C.P dissolved and re-designated from 1959 to 1960 as G.I.B.P.OM then in 1960 B.P.C.I.Ma and renamed in 1962 1erR.P.I.Ma which retained the SAS emblem.
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 (1ère CIA) of the Free French Forces, or 1st Free French Airborne Infantry Company, under the command of Captain Bergé.
The 1ère CIA began operational missions, parachuting into occupied France in March 1941. The company was then split into two units, a covert action unit used for clandestine operations and a conventional and uniformed company sent to North Africa in September 1941 to fight the Axis Forces along with 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 3rd and 4th Air Infantry were created and incorporated into the SAS Brigade along with their British and Belgian counterparts, 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 soldier killed in action in Plumelec, Morbihan. On August 1, 1944, the 3rd and 4th Air Infantry battalions were renamed the 2nd and 3rd Chasseur Parachute battalions. As a reward for their bravery, King George VI awarded the Free French SAS the right to wear 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 into 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.
The Free French SAS took a major part in the epic battles[clarification needed] of the SAS in Africa, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, earning French and foreign awards (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 Bronze Cross and the Belgian Croix de Guerre. Today, this SAS heritage is still evident in 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 was created. It continued in the training role until 1974, when the 1er RPIMa was transformed into a Special Forces unit, a role it still plays today.
The unit's mission has been mostly to support France's interests in Africa. Between 1974 and 1981, the 1er RPIMa underwent another mission change to focus on long-range reconnaissance patrols for almost a decade, while it still used its training skills to training friendly forces abroad.
In the 80s and 90s the regiment 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 to incorporate the lessons learned in the First Gulf War. As part of this process, in 1997, the nucleus of what was to become the army's BFST (Brigade des Forces Spéciales Terre) (Land Special Forces Brigade) 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 Command (COM FST), 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. As the unit was inspired by the British Special Air Service, it has still much in common with them, including missions and capabilities.
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.
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, which makes amphibious and mountain training possible. 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 5.56x45mm assault rifle. 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 10.4 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 7.62mm, and snipers use the HK417 or Hecate II rifles. Sometimes MILAN missiles have been 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: bodyguard for VIPs in conflict areas, direct action, reconnaissance, sabotage, unconventional warfare and hostage rescue. While their name states they are Marine Infantry, they are in fact Army.
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:
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 of fighting in Bazeilles, a village which was taken and abandoned four consecutive times under orders, on August 31 and September 1, 1870.
In the Name of God, long live the colonial !
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: As a paratrooper regiment, the 1er R.P.I.Ma celebrates each year on September 29, the Patron-Saint of Paratroopers. This celebration gives rise to various events with veterans.
« Who dares wins » is the general motto of the British SAS, translated in French to « Qui ose gagne ».
Insignia French Army Special Forces Brigade
Insignia of the 1e B.C.C.P
The list of operations shows a world-wide commitment since it ranges from Afghanistan to Africa and the Balkans.
The most decorated French and allied unit of the Second World War
The officers and members of this regiment wear one of four Fourragères:
Fourragère bearing colors of the légion d'honneur
Fourragère bearing of the Ordre de la Libération
Fourragère bearing colors of the Croix de guerre des T.O.E
et anciens de la Brigade des Parachutistes Coloniaux héritiers des S.A.S