Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale

Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale
June 13 19:45 2010 Print This Article

Groupe d'Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale GIGN

The National Gendarmerie Intervention Group (GIGN), is the French Gendarmerie’s elite Special Operations counter-terrorism and hostage rescue unit. It is part of the military force called the Gendarmerie. Although its members belong to the military, they are now charged with police duties outside urbanised areas. As such, GIGN units are closer to enhanced SWAT teams than to pure military units such as the British Army’s Special Air Service. Its operators are trained to follow police regulations and include negotiation and investigation specialists.

It is a counterpart to the RAID unit of the National Police, with enhanced resources and expanded areas of responsibility. In contrast to RAID, GIGN is also responsible for conducting operations outside of France (such as hostage rescue for example). Its missions include the arrest of armed criminals, in particular those taking hostages, counter-terrorism and dealing with aircraft hijacking, and prevention of mutiny in prisons.

After the Munich massacre during the Olympic Games in 1972, and a prison mutiny in Clairvaux Prison the next year, France started to study the possible solutions to extremely violent attacks, under the assumptions that these would be difficult to predict and deflect.

In 1973, the GIGN became a permanent force of men trained and equipped to respond to these kind of threats while minimizing risks to the public and hostages, for the members of the unit, and for the attackers themselves. The GIGN became operational on the first of March, 1974, under the command of Lieutenant Christian Prouteau.

Ten days later, a deranged person was successfully stopped in Ecquevilly, validating the techniques of the unit and proving its necessity. GIGN initially had 15 members, which increased to 48 by 1984, 57 by 1988, and 87 by 2000.

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