Commandos Marine

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Commandos Marine
Commando-marine-béret V2.jpg
Commando beret badge
Active 1947–present
Country  France
Branch Logo of the French Navy (Marine Nationale).svg French Navy
Type Navy Commando
Role Special Operations
Counter Terrorism
Direct Action
Special Reconnaissance
Underwater demolition
Amphibious Warfare
Size ~ 600+ SOF Operators
Garrison/HQ Lorient
Nickname bérets verts (green berets)
Mascot Jean-Louis
RADM Olivier Coupry
CDR. Philippe Kieffer
LCDR Victor Servent
Marine Nationale
Naval Ensign of France
Motto: Honneur, Patrie, Valeur, Discipline
(“Honour, Homeland, Valour, Discipline”)
Naval Ministers
Maritime Prefect
Force d'action navale
Forces sous-marines (FOST, ESNA)
Aviation navale
FORFUSCO (Commandos Marine, Fusiliers Marins)
Gendarmerie Maritime
Current fleet
Current deployments
Ranks in the French Navy
History of the French Navy
Future of the French Navy
Ensigns and pennants
Historic ships

   ships of the line
   Sail frigates

Historic fleets
Croix de guerre
Médaille militaire
Légion d'honneur

The Commandos Marine are the special operation forces of the French Navy. They are made up of some 600 members plus support, mostly based in northwestern France (Brittany), with several bases across the country for specific training needs. The Commandos Marine are nicknamed bérets verts (Green Berets). They operate under the Naval Riflemen and Special Operations Forces Command (ALFUSCO) and form part of the French Special Operations Command.


The Commandos Marine were formed in 1942 during World War II in Great Britain modeled alongside the British Commandos (who were founded in 1940). They were formed from Free French volunteers from different services mainly from Navy Fusiliers-Marins (Naval Infantry), other Navy specialities and even from Amy. They were trained at the Commando Training Centre Achnacarry, Scotland and joined the N 10 Commando as the 1st and the 8th Troops. To commemorate this the beret of the French naval commandos is worn pulled to the right with the badge worn over the left eye or temple, the opposite of all other French units.

The 1st BFMC (Battalion de Fusiliers Marins Commandos, Commando Naval Riflemen Battalion) took part in the Normandy Landing on D-Day under command of Lieutenant Commander Philippe Kieffer, on SWORD beach, and were for that integrated to N 4 Commando. The battalion was disbanded at the conclusion of the WWII but the very few remaining in service made the case to the Navy that a Commando Corps was a capacity required to counter the guerrilla warfare in Indochina.

Another branch comes from a Naval Reconnaissance Unit created in December 1944, Company NYO, formed from volunteers from different specialities of the Navy, mainly Naval Riflemen (Fusiliers Marins) and Naval Artillery. This unit later renamed Company Merlet (the name of his founder and commanding officer, Lieutenant (Navy) Jean Merlet) fought in the campaign of Italy before embarking for Indochina in September 1945. It was renamed Company Jaubert then became naturally Commando Jaubert, the fist combatant and constituted Commando Unit to be, when the French Navy decided to create a Commando Corps in 1946.

Commander Pierre Ponchardier and his Special Air Service Battalion aka SAS-B (also nicknamed Tigers Commandos) created in early 1945 fought in indochina until 1946 before the battalion be disbanded. Ponchardier was a visionary of modern SOF. Although he was not subordinated to a Naval Rifleman chain of command, he ran large scale operations where Compagnie Merlet/Jaubert and the 1st RFM were in support. His audacity, the novation of the TTPs and the course of actions he applied in guerrilla warfare and COIN, set the spirit and were disseminated to the overall Commandos Marine organization.

Recruitment and training[edit]

Tribute to Commando Kieffer, 6 June 2009

The large body of the recruits must have completed first the Fusiliers-Marins Basic Training and served at least 9 months of service. They have to enter a special forces basic training course reputed to be one of the toughest among the NATO Special Operation Forces. The SOF basic training is called Stage Commando (commando training). The SOF Basic Training is open to sailors or enlisted form other Navy Specialities. Commando Kieffer recruits specialists and experts from other specialties in the Navy or other services. They must go though the same training pipe to get the green beret and be deployed overseas.

Commando training is the gateway to the Special Operations Forces for the Naval Riflemen. Conducted at the Fusilier Marins school at Lorient on the Atlantic coast, it provides upon successful completion entry to the commandos and the right to wear the green beret. Lasting 20 weeks, it includes one week of commando testing, six weeks of screening and preparatory training, four weeks of evaluation, the actual SOF course for seven weeks, and two weeks of parachute training. During this period, any mistake can instantly disqualify the candidate. The ultimate goal of this training is to detect individuals with the physical, intellectual and psychological potential needed to serve in the Commandos Marine. The historical roots of commando training date back to the Second World War, when Fusilier-Marins volunteers from the Free French Navy went to the Commando training center in Achnacarry, Scotland. Since then, the Commandos Marine have kept by tradition the green beret pulled right with the bronze shield badge on the left, the only such exception in the French armed forces. They have retained the principle of exceptional training without compromise, based on immersion in a highly stressful environment, close to the conditions of combat operations.

The prospective Commandos in training are constantly under stress and pressure from instructors leaving them no respite. All activities are timed and scored: marching tens of kilometers with equipment and weapon in all weathers, obstacle courses and night navigation exercises. The training is punctuated by firearms training and assault tactics, climbing and rappelling, boat handling, explosives instruction and hand-to-hand combat. The instructors are experienced operatives assigned to the Commando School who monitor and punish failure with extra-hard physical activity.

The Commandos Marine have evolved to be broadly comparable to the British Special Boat Service.


Their personnel is distributed between six Commando Units (Squadron+ size), named after former commando officers killed in action, and are dedicated Maritime counter-terrorist Units :

Insignia Team Deployment Number of Platoons HQ Notes
Insignes du Commando Jaubert.jpg Commando Jaubert Worldwide 5 Platoons Lorient, France Direct Action, Assault at sea and land, hot extraction, close quarters battle at sea and land. Equities in the Land and Maritime CT organization.
Ins Cdo MFT 02.jpg Commando de Montfort Worldwide 5 Platoons Lorient, France Reconnaissance, Intelligence Operations, Long Range Neutralisation (SKIT), JTACs comprises a Tier One Platoon named ESNO
Ins Cdo KPF 03.jpg Commando de Penfentenyo Worldwide 5 Platoons Lorient, France Reconnaissance, Intelligence Operations, Long Range Neutralisation (SKIT), JTACs comprises a Tier One Platoon named ESNO
Ins Cdo TPL 02.jpg Commando Trepel Worldwide 5 Platoons Lorient, France Direct Action, Assault at sea and land, hot extraction, close quarters battle at sea and land. Equities in the Land and Maritime CT organization.
Blason hubert.jpg Commando Hubert Worldwide Classified Toulon, France (also named Commando d'Action Sous-Marine Hubert, CASM, "Underwater Operations Commando"): Underwater action (combat divers). Appears to be a Special Mission Unit in support of Land and Maritime Counter Terrorism
Kieff10.jpg Commando Kieffer Worldwide Classified Lorient, France C3I, Combat dogs K9, CP CBRN, UAVs, Intel, TTPs and Procedures Development
BFMC Worlwide Unknown Lorient, France Land, Air and Sea mobility, Communications, Support and supply for the Commandos Marine.
Commando Francois East Africa Unknown Djibouti, Democratic Republic of Djibouti Forward Base for Operational deployment in East Africa. Established since 1971. aka "Commando Arta".

See also[edit]