The GIGN: Special Unit of the French National Gendarmerie

Le GIGN : Unité Spéciale de la Gendarmerie Nationale Française - Phil Team

GIGN: French Gendarmerie Intervention Group

GIGN 4 letters that alone are enough to inspire respect. The National Gendarmerie Intervention Group has been acting for more than 40 years for the benefit of France. Recognized worldwide, the GIGN is based in the Yvelines, on the crown of the Île de France region.

One of his last feats of arms on the territory, which was highly publicized, dates back to the assault on Dammartin-en-Goële - against the Kouachi brothers.

Whether your goal is to join this elite unit of the National Gendarmerie , or just to learn more about the GIGN , then our article is for you.

To discover our 9 tips before becoming a soldier, click here.

The missions of the GIGN

Originally one man – Lieutenant Christian Prouteau . Following the attacks in Munich in 1972, and a mutiny at Clairvaux prison, the 2/2 squadron based in Maisons-Alfort saw the birth of a special team then called ECRI (Commando Regional Intervention Team).

Since that date, 1974, the GIGN has faced the terrorist threat inside and outside metropolitan territory. Trained to deal with the most extreme crises, and to fight against organized crime, the GIGN gendarmes ensure above all the protection of the vital interests of the State.

 GIGN's know-how covers a broad spectrum of operations, in particular:

  • Piratair : hijacking;
  • Piratmer : hijacking or attacking a ship;
  • Piratome : nuclear attack;
  • Piratox : chemical or biological attack;
  • Piratext : hostage-taking of French nationals abroad;
  • Neutralizations of madmen, arrests of dangerous and armed people.

To carry out all of these missions, the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group is made up of different sections and staff.


Intervention Force


Emblematic, this section is the one that is most often under the spotlight. Indeed, the hundred or so soldiers who make it up are called upon to operate during complex judicial police arrests.

Spinning for arrest, arrests of moving vehicles, arrests in the open or in hardened homes, flagrante delicto operations, extortion, and kidnappings constitute an important part of the activity of the force.

Research Observation Force (FOR)

As its name suggests, this section is intended for the search for the acquisition of judicial or administrative intelligence in the context of the fight against terrorism and organized crime.

Composed of men and women experienced in observation techniques and qualified in multiple fields (diving, parachuting, etc.), they are capable of being projected by special means into degraded theaters of operations.

Force Security Protection (FSP)

Isolated or joint operations, on the territory or abroad, the gendarmes of the GIGN belonging to the FSP are intended for the protection of personalities and sites considered sensitive. Their deployments can take place for the benefit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or international organizations (UN, European Union, etc.) on the proposal of the French State. Their 25 years of specific know-how allow them to act and arm different devices depending on the mission.

Operational Support

This section is divided into 7 cells, with very specific know-how. The Operational Support component makes it possible to meet the very specific needs of the GIGN. Some unique and rare skills also find their way among the different cells.

  • The " special means " section: it is made up of operational technicians who can get involved in the very heart of the actions carried out by the other GIGN forces.
  • The " operational adaptation technique " unit: it intervenes in support of the forces in action by modifying or copying any common object with a view to use in operations. In a recent report broadcast on the W9 channel, we saw for example one of these technicians make up a handgun so that it blends into the vegetation.
  • The " canine support " section : above all specialized in the search for IEDs, this section brings together the GIGN dog handlers, who can be projected in the same way as the other soldiers.
  • The " assault detrapment " cell : it is made up of EOD (Neutralization, Abduction, Destruction, Explosives) specialists. Its role is above all to support the various other forces of the GIGN. Its skills also allow it to intervene throughout the territory, and within the framework of OPEX (External Operation).
  • The " NRBC " cell: (intervention in a stale environment) Its existence is relatively recent - 2007. It offers the GIGN a real ability to anticipate and react in this sensitive area of ​​nuclear power. (NRBC: Nuclear, Radiological, Biological, Chemical).
  • The “ burglary ” cell: it is intended for the creation of a breach thanks to the use of explosives in particular.
  • The “ fine opening ” cell: this can be similar to the break-in cell. However, its role is different since it is intended to carry out discreet intrusions, without resorting to the use of explosives.

GIGN Weapons, Equipment and Vehicles

To carry out all of these missions, the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group has a wide range of vehicles, weapons and tactical equipment.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of the equipment they have at their disposal:

Weapons & equipment

  • Handguns: the SIG-Sauer Pro SP 2022, the MR-73 with 4 barrels, the Glock 19, the P228, the Manurhin MR 73 in 357 Magnum, the Glock 19 in 9 mm Parabellum, the S&W 686 GFS "Stainless" , the Sig-Sauer P228, the Beretta 92, and semi-automatic pistols like the Glock 19, the Sig-Sauer P228, the FN Five-seveN and the Pamas G1S. Divers also use Glock 19 and Five-seveN, but do not use tactical lamps.
  • Submachine guns: the HK MP5 in version A, the FN P90, or even the PM HK and the Uzi for divers.
  • Smoothbore Shotguns: Remington 870, Benelli M3 Super 90, and Franchi SPAS 12 Special Purpose Automatic Shotgun.
  • Assault rifles: the HK G3 TGS, the SIG-550 and 551 SWAT with Hensoldt scopes, the HK33EA2 with a folding stock, the HK G36C, and the HK 416 caliber 5.56×45 mm NATO which has replaced the Famas since 2017.
  • Precision weapons: the Manurhin MR 73 in 8 and 10 inches, equipped with scopes and bipods, the HK417, the bolt-action PGM Hécate II, and more than a hundred Accuracy International AW 308, 308 sub and 338.

GIGN vehicles


The GIGN also has various means of transport such as armored vehicles and benefits from the Joint Helicopter Group (GIH) if necessary.

  • SWATEC vehicle with HARAS system: this vehicle can intervene against buildings, the GIGN has four. The HARAS is a height-adjustable assault and rescue system for accessing the third floor of a building.
  • Sherpa Light APC vehicle: this is a 4×4 truck equipped with a modular platform with a HARAS hydraulic ramp. The GIGN has two of these light armored trucks.
  • Fortress Intervention vehicle: this is an armored vehicle equipped with a response hatch on the roof as well as a run flat system that allows you to drive with a flat tire.

GIGN recruitment

To join the ranks of the Group, it is above all necessary to be an officer or non-commissioned officer of the national gendarmerie. Unlike units like the 1st RPIMA, officially, the GIGN does not recruit civilian personnel.

The soldier will then have to perform an average of 4 years of service in one of the many units of the national gendarmerie (mobile, republican guard, departmental, etc.). The candidate must meet several conditions before taking the tests: be under 34 years old, be fit TAP - to practice skydiving. He will then be accepted to take the GIGN selection tests.


Organized twice a year, the tests are physically and mentally demanding for the candidates. The first week consists of a series of individual events (push-ups, pull-ups, apnea, 100 m freestyle, etc.), and collective ones. Candidates will also have to pass various interviews with a jury, personality questionnaires, and scenarios.

Following this initial selection, the few successful candidates will then begin the pre-internship, lasting 3 months, during which they will be assessed daily. At the end of this pre-course, the remaining participants will receive training for 8 months, in order to assume their future operational role within one of the GIGN Forces.


“Commit for life”

Emblematic unit of the National Gendarmerie , known throughout the world for its know-how and its unique experience, the GIGN is a unit whose expertise and techniques are refined a little more each year.

Operating methods, equipment with more or less advanced technologies, innovations in terms of armaments, the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group is constantly innovating through its multiple cells. Despite everything, the GIGN can above all count on the resistance and determination of its handpicked members, to carry out the missions entrusted to it.


1 comment

  • Lokonon Jésugnon Moïse on

    Je sais soldat béninoise je voudrais suivre la formation de la GIGN

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published