Special Forces: The secrets of the 13th RDP

Forces Spéciales : Les secrets du 13 ème RDP - Phil Team

At the heart of secrecy with the 13th RDP

An Army regiment, the 13th Parachute Dragoons Regiment is one of those regiments with a particular history and operation.

Unique in its kind by its command: it is commanded by the CEMA (Army Chief of Staff) , by the DRM (Military Intelligence Directorate) , and by the COS (Special Operations Command) .

The 13 is the intelligence unit par excellence . True chameleons, its members must pass an extremely selective training to claim to become a team member .

Their profession requiring the greatest anonymity , you will never see their face, you will never know where they are or what they are doing. Secrecy being one of their greatest strengths, you will very rarely hear about their mission even after the fact.

Never heard of them? Or on the contrary, do you dream of wearing their beret? Focus on the eyes and ears of the Army.

13 in numbers

“Beyond the possible” , the motto of the 13th RDP says a lot about the skills and capabilities of the soldiers of this Special Forces regiment. In order to better know this prestigious regiment, we will quote several figures.


The creation of the 13th RDP dates back to October 4, 1676. Virtually destroyed in 1940 after successive battles, the regiment will survive and even participate in the fighting in 1945.

In 1952, the regiment became a parachutist, and then took part in operations in Algeria.

Its first OPEX dates back to 1978: they were then positioned in Mauritania and Kolwezi.

Until 2011, the regiment was positioned in Lorraine, in Dieuze. Since then, he has settled in Souge, in Gironde.



Integrating a special forces regiment is not given to everyone. That's what the numbers reflect.

In total, recruits will have to follow 14 specific training courses spread over 67 weeks. The curriculum is therefore long and dense. But it is not enough to follow the training to become a Dragon Parachutist: out of 100 applicants, 80 fail.

Despite everything, the regiment gathers today more or less 800 men. They are divided into 7 squadrons, acting on very specific territories.


“See without being seen”

The 13 RDP is entrusted with highly sensitive missions asking them, for example, to collect intelligence for the great military leaders and political decision-makers. Secrecy being the basis of their profession, their mission is to penetrate enemy lines to gather intelligence.

This must be carried out in the greatest secrecy, without anyone revealing them. This is why opening fire during an operation would be synonymous with failure. Moreover, it is very rare to hear about them, the majority of their operations often remaining unknown to the general public.

Their mission requires the greatest cold blood, a lot of resilience and mental toughness. During an interview, an operator had, for example, revealed that he had spent 13 days buried underground.

The soldiers of the 13th RDP must have great physical resistance: they operate both in desert environments, in the mountains, in the jungle, etc. Regardless of weather conditions, they must be operational.

Able to infiltrate by all vectors (air, sea, land), they must show the greatest autonomy: their backpack can sometimes reach 60 kg!

To accomplish their missions, they have state-of-the-art equipment: digital cameras, light intensifiers, camouflage uniforms, motorized vehicles, etc.


“War differently”

This quote is that of General Henri Poncet , the former boss of the COS. Through this sentence it is easy to understand that these soldiers are different. Neither big mouths nor big muscles, it is not a physique that is sought after by recruiters.

Becoming a team member at 13 above all means showing great situational awareness, a lot of composure, but also mental strength. It should be known that these Men are very employed with the evolution and the new combats. This is why training is sometimes left aside in favor of long and demanding OPEX.


Photo credit



    j’ai collaboré avec le 13 en 1978
    BP 401784



    Je suis dans un pays etranger pour le moment et je n’ai donc pas la possibilité d’aller dans un cirfa.
    J’aimerai savoir le parcours typique à suivre pour les post-bac, les formations et ses durées du tout debut jusqu’à la fin.

    Je vous remercie d’avance

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