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GIGN and special forces[edit]

I don't think we can really say the GIGN is from the special forces. They are not under commande of the COS (special operations command). David.Monniaux 17:22, 14 December 2005 (UTC)

I think we can (see similar categories, like Category:Special forces of Germany; see also List of special forces). The GIGN fits the definition of Special forces: "relatively small military units raised and trained for special operations missions such as Special Reconnaissance (SR), Unconventional Warfare (UW), Direct Action (DA), Terrorism (T), Counter-Terrorism (CT), and Foreign Internal Defense (FID). These highly-trained, often self-sufficient units rely on stealth, speed, close teamwork, and specialized equipment." This definition does not exclude French units not under command of COS. Apokrif 13:32, 15 December 2005 (UTC)
The problem is "military". While technically the GIGN is a military unit of the Gendarmerie, it effectively carries on extreme police actions, not military actions. Of course I have a very naive view of the topic and a member of the GIGN would certainly have much more interesting things to say, but I think that intuitively, you can compare actions of the GIGN to actions of the RAID more easily than you could compare them to, say, the Naval commando.
Besides (and without any particular connection to the present discussion), I suspect that there is a tendency to have categories "the Special Forces in my country is bigger than yours". This is neither a sign of maturity for the Wikipedian, nor a sign of quality for the unit. Rama 14:29, 15 December 2005 (UTC)
The lists I link to include police forces and even a unit of the German customs. I think we could change the definition in Special forces accordingly. It's difficult to distinguish special police forces and special military forces insofar as both perform the same type of missions, i.e. law enforcement in difficult situations (e.g. hostage rescue for the SAS and GIGN, the assault on Ouvea cave for GIGN and naval commandos, drug enforcement for naval commandos, protection of civilians in war zones for EPIGN). Apokrif 14:51, 15 December 2005 (UTC)
Special forces really seems to be about purely military actions. Even if for some reason someone had forgotten to mention the GIGN as one crucial step toward modern security and intervention groups, I cannot but notice that no mentions are made of the much-publicised US groups (SWAT, Hostage Rescue Team and such). Rama 15:15, 15 December 2005 (UTC)
Please see list of special forces. It includes both military and police special ops units. Also the article states clearly: (...) French special forces operate under the Special Operations Command. First circle units are permanently under that command, while second circle units may be called in if necessary: (...) Second circle: (...) Groupe d'Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale (...) --Nkcs 02:38, 31 December 2005 (UTC)
Anyway, it would be useful to have something like a "SWAT Unit" or "special police unit" category. Apokrif 02:13, 22 January 2006 (UTC)
The Gendarmerie Nationale is part of the army, whereas the Police Nationale is not; then the GIGN should be regarded as a military organization. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)
Micheletti's book says the GIGN performs "blue" missions (gendarmerie missions) but also "khaki" missions (with the COS). Apokrif 18:36, 20 September 2006 (UTC)
Quite frankly it is very ignorant to describe GIGN as a pure policing organisation as they carry out many operations that a police unit would neither be capable of or authorised to do so. They regularly deploy with other French Special Forces units worldwide and during certain operations come under French Special Operations Command. There role would best be compared to the eilte military units counter-terrorism role such as the British SAS, the United States 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta and DEVGRU. But along with the same responsibilities they inherit the responsibilities to conduct high-risk law enforcement situations. I believe the changes i made on the article best reflect the true responsibilities of the unit. A military unit. iiXtC 17:03, 07 July 2011 (AEST)

Discrepancy in Sidebar and General Information[edit]

I must point out that there is a rather obvious discrepancy in the data regarding numbers of GIGN troops. The information displayed on the page says 120 men, specifically citing 11 officers. However, the sidebar says "about 380 gendarmes." That's quite a difference. 08:03, 6 August 2007 (UTC)RuggedGoodLooks

There was a big change on 1st Sept 2007 : GIGN and EPIGN are merged (Gendarmerie Det /GSPR disbanded) in one unit called GIGN (new GIGN command is nearly same as former GSIGN). So old GIGN had ~120 people, the new has ~380 (inculding support units such as GSIGN training center). Rob1bureau 19:52, 18 September 2007 (UTC)

How Many?[edit]

Every part of the article says its a different number i can see 120-380 and 80 in different places —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:47, 15 January 2008 (UTC) There are articles all over the internet about the reorganisation of the French GIGN absorbing all other French Gendarmerie special mission units. Therefore their numbers are much higher than beforehand. — Preceding unsigned comment added by IiXtC (talkcontribs) 07:04, 7 July 2011 (UTC)

The total size of the unit may well be around 400-500. Only less than 100 are operators. The current description of the unit size is therefore misleading. (talk) 00:25, 15 January 2015 (UTC)

Do any of you have Reliable Sources to back that size up? - SantiLak (talk) 00:29, 15 January 2015 (UTC)

Comparable special forces section[edit]

If nobody disagrees, I will shorten the section about comparable units and replace it with a link to "List of special police units". This section should only give an idea of what units the GIGN can be compared to, i.e. GSG 9, GEO, etc. This section is way too long and it's starting to turn into a copy of the article about the list of special police units. --Der rikkk (talk) 21:12, 4 July 2010 (UTC)

November 2015 Paris attacks[edit]

Do we know anything about the GIGN's involvement in countering the gunmen? I am just speculating but this will probably need to be added. JJ5788 (talk) 03:38, 14 November 2015 (UTC)

It seems it was Paris' municipal police SWAT so far but initial reports are usually inaccurate, if they were, it should be added. - SantiLak (talk) 08:08, 14 November 2015 (UTC)

According to the Washington Post, it was Brigades de Recherche et d’Intervention, and not GIGN. (talk) 01:21, 21 November 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Hello, I have temporarily removed the links while reorganizing the whole article. The info linded into is not current anymore but it might be useful to place back in the article (in a separate paragraph) later on. Rgds, Bruno --Domenjod (talk) 21:28, 30 March 2016 (UTC)

2016 update[edit]

Hello, I just updated the article and still plan to add material (mostly references and biographies) in the coming days. Please feel free to improve the text since English is not my mother language (for example, I am not sure if the current moto is best translated as : "to enlist for life" or "to enroll for life". Best regards, Bruno --Domenjod (talk) 14:28, 30 March 2016 (UTC).

PS : I am leery about the title. I think it should be just "GIGN" (just like "GSG 9" is the title for the German unit). I know there is a redirection but I would recommend changing it anyway. Any opinions?



As proposed in my edit of March,30, I just changed the article name to GIGN (in fact I swapped the article and an existing redirection page) since keeping the old title : "National Gendarmerie Intervention Group" didn't make any sense. There is a redirection page should someone type-in the old name.

Even in France, the full name of Groupe d'intervention de la Gendarmerie nationale is never used (and I am thinking of proposing a name change too) but at least it is the official name while "National Gendarmerie Intervention Group" ...

By the way, I have also checked that the acronym GSG 9 is used as a title for the German unit, rather than the full German name (which is not used anymore anyway).

Best regards, Bruno--Domenjod (talk) 19:09, 8 April 2016 (UTC)

Hi Bruno.
So that the history of the page is retained, you will need to move the page, rather than copy and paste the content.
You can do this at
Simply enter the new name into the box where the current name is, and leave the "Move associated talk page" checked.
If there is an error, you'll need to request the page is moved (see WP:RM).
Regards, Rob984 (talk) 23:33, 8 April 2016 (UTC)
Oh, looking at your talk page I assume there is an error when you try to move over the redirect. I will open a request move below. Rob984 (talk) 23:39, 8 April 2016 (UTC)
Hi Rob984, thanks a lot for your help. Regards, Bruno --Domenjod (talk) 05:47, 9 April 2016 (UTC)

Requested move 8 April 2016[edit]

The following is a closed discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: page moved. Malcolmxl5 (talk) 03:31, 16 April 2016 (UTC)

National Gendarmerie Intervention GroupGIGN – Per WP:COMMONNAME. "GIGN" is unambiguous, precise and more recognisable than the current title. I'm not sure "National Gendarmerie Intervention Group" can even be considered an alternative name, since the English, non-abbreviated form isn't actually used. Should only be noted as a literally translation of French non-abbreviated form. Rob984 (talk) 23:50, 8 April 2016 (UTC)

"Support. My reasons : Recognizability, (that's the only name used by the media), Naturalness (that's the name the readers will search for - and for those few readers that don't know or remember the name "GIGN", the old name should be kept as a redirection). Precision (unambiguously identifies the article's subject) and Conciseness. Bruno --Domenjod (talk) 12:34, 9 April 2016 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

Motto translation[edit]

Hello, before we get into another reversion battle, I would like to discuss the new (2014) GIGN motto: S'engager pour la vie, which I translated as : "To enlist for life". Mathglot proposed instead : "A lifelong commitment" which, in my opinion, conveys only one of the two meanings of the motto (ie the long term commitment) but misses the second one (to enlist - or enroll - for protection of life). As English is not my mother language (neither is it mathglot's, I believe) and I may have missed something so I would be interested in opinions/advise. Thanks in advance. Bruno--Domenjod (talk) 08:14, 11 June 2016 (UTC)

User Domenjod is correct in that "A lifelong commitment" only conveys one of the two possible meanings of the motto. "Enlist" or "enroll" however, is incorrect here. In French, the original contains a double meaning; whether this is the intent or not of GIGN is an interesting question, and imho the best approach would be simply to ask them. The two possible literal meanings in English of the original French are these:
  1. Committed to [saving/protecting] life [of others]; and
  2. Committing [myself, i.e. dedicating myself, to this job] for life
Some possible translations are:
  • Enlisting for life, To enlist for life, and similar expressions
  • Lifelong commitment
  • Commitment for life
The translation "Lifelong commitment", as Domenjod pointed out, preserves sense 2, but not sense 1. Likewise, "To enlist for life" preserves sense two, but not sense 1, but is awkward and not how an English native speaker would render it. "Commitment for life" has a double meaning encompassing both 1 and 2 (although sense 2 would be better rendered by "Committed to life", but in translation you can't have everything, and "commitment for life" adequately retains both meanings, even if the preposition seems less than ideal in one of the two. "To enlist for life" definitely does not adequately retain the double meaning, but only meaning 2.
English is my mother tongue, and I am non-native fluent in French. Mathglot (talk) 08:38, 11 June 2016 (UTC)
Hello @Mathglot:. Thanks for the quick answer. I don't fully agree with everything you wrote but I think we're making progress. Regarding the meaning of the new (2014) motto, I have very few doubts. As far as asking GIGN - as you suggested - I try to avoid calling too often but I'll probably meet some of their PAOs next week (coincidence). Anyway, at this time, I'd suggest we wait until we get more opinions/advice on the topic before making any change, if that's OK with you. Rgds, --Domenjod (talk) 09:18, 11 June 2016 (UTC)
PS (Mathglot): You write "Likewise, "To enlist for life" preserves sense two, but not sense 1"...Isn'it the other way around?
@Domenjod: Waiting is fine with me. To answer your question, no, it's not the other way round, which is why I made my first edit on the page. One request: when you speak to GIGN this week, would you kindly request if their responses can be quoted on Wikipedia (fr or en), either exactly, or paraphrased? My questions to them would be, "Who came up with the motto, an individual, a committee, when and where? Is there general agreement on what it means (in French) and is the intent of the motto to incorporate the double meaning? (I assume the answer to that is yes, but I want to hear it from them. I'd also prefer to see their responses in French, i.e., not translated as the whole point of this talk section relates to problems with translation. Normally talk pages on EN wikipedia should be in English, but an original quote can be included in the original language, and translated later.) I'm glad you'll be talking with them, maybe we can resolve this pretty quickly. Mathglot (talk) 21:09, 11 June 2016 (UTC)
Hello @Mathglot:. Three points if I may.
1-I don't know if I'll see anyone from GIGN next week but if I do, I am not going to bore them with requests for written statements, or comments on who said what to whom. Even during "normal" times, they are swamped with requests from the press every day so I am sure you can imagine that with the current situation in France, (terrorism threats, Euro football competition, up-coming Tour de France etc.) they have enough on their plate. I THINK I heard sometime that the new motto was devised by Gal Favier - the current Director General of the Gendarmerie and a former GIGN CO - and if I get a chance, I'll do try to broach the matter but, as far as the double meaning of the motto, it should be pretty clear for anyone who is fluent in French (like you), who has read about them since creation in 1973 (like me) or simply who has fully read the article (see paragraph : "Motto and values" and especially the mention of their previous motto : Sauver des vies au mépris de la sienne).
2-I don't know if "To enlist for life" is as awkward as you mention. Before proposing that translation, I made a few researches and found - among others - So the term, to enlist in the army seems rather widely used. But once again, I am NOT going to teach English to English native speakers. That is why I would really like to have other opinions. Maybe @Rob984: and, @Jenks24:, who kindly helped me on previous occasions ?
3-If we end up choosing another translation, your first proposal (lifelong commitment) doesn't sound right to me, as you admitted. Committed to life might be better (in fact Committed to life for life would be closer but awkward too...). In any case, I think I'll add a note emphasizing the double meaning in the French motto.
Yes, translation is a fine art and, as you said, in translation you can't have everything! Thanks for you help. Rgds, --Domenjod (talk) 16:07, 12 June 2016 (UTC)
1 Wasn't suggesting GIGN provide written anything, only that you report back what they said by writing it here on the talk page, with their agreement.
2 Since you repeated your doubt about "enlist for life" I'll repeat my comment about it: It is as awkward as I mention. All of the examples at your link, like "enlisted in the Army" are perfectly fine. "Enlist for life" is possible and grammatical but awkward. I think you understand the basic meaning of 'enlist' without understanding the nuances of its usage. 'To enlist' has a nuance of meaning regarding the entry point to membership in an organization, but not the strength or weakness of that attachment nor the ongoing fact of being in that organization after you had enlisted. 'To commit to something' has a meaning that encompasses 'to enlist' as far as the moment when you first made the commitment, but goes beyond it to include the sense of the strength of that attachment and the continuous timeline of commitment beyond that original moment, that 'to enlist' does not include. S'inscrire is a bit more like 'enlist' and s'engager as bit more like 'to commit' but the analogy is not perfect, as it rarely is in translation, as saying 'il s'engage dans la Légion Étrangère' could certainly be translated as 'he enlists/-ed in the Foreign Legion' OR 'he commits/-ed to the Foreign Legion' but in English those two sentences mean slightly different things. The first means only that 'he joined' or 'became a member' (and maybe three days later he left because he changed his mind or only joined as a result of a drunken dare) whereas the second means both that he joined, and also strongly implies that this was preplanned, carefully thought out in advance, and carries an inner strength of attachment that would predict a long-term membership. Does that help distinguish between 'to enlist in' and 'to commit to'?
3 You're right that 'Committed to life for life' is closer but awkward which is why 'Commitment for life' is the best compromise, in my opinion, given the assumption that the original has a double meaning, which we won't know until #1 is resolved.
This is too many words on a Talk page for so few words on the article page, so AFAIC you can do what you like, I won't object anymore, regardless of my opinion of its correctness. Have a great rest of your weekend! Mathglot (talk) 19:05, 12 June 2016 (UTC)

Not really a special forces - or a special operations - unit[edit]

Hello, I just undid an edit by @USMC Lance: and would like to further explain the reason here, in order to avoid a confusion - or an edit war. This topic has already been discussed a while ago (see above) but I think it is better adressed now that there are separate articles for military units (see List of military special forces units) and civilian or gendarmerie-type police units (see List of special law enforcement units).

I think we should refer to the NATO definition of special operations cited in the article Special forces : military activities conducted by specially designated, organized, trained, and equipped forces, manned with selected personnel, using unconventional tactics, techniques, and modes of employment. The key words here are "military activities" (not military personnel) and "unconventional tactics, techniques and modes of employment". GIGN's mission is not to fight an ennemy army or to use "unconventional" tactics such as guerilla warfare.

Presenting then GIGN as a special operations unit just because the gendarmes are part of the armed forces is misleading. The Gendarmerie IS a police force : its only military missions are military police, protection of certain sites and control of the nuclear forces. It is true that Gendarmerie units have fought as front-line units alongside the Army in the past, but this was long ago and is not the case anymore. The last time was during World War II - against the German Army (and to a lesser extent, against guerilla-type forces during the First Indochina War and the Algerian War).

Gendarmerie units (including GIGN) were engaged recently in the former Yougoslavia, in Afghanistan (POMLTs) and in various African countries but never as front line combattant units and always in a police-orientated mission falling under the category of Foreign internal defense. Some of these missions are also undertaken by special forces so there may be some overlap, just like, for example, when a hostage situation occurs abroad - as illustrated by GIGN's involvement in the hostage situations at Ouvéa (1988) or on the Ponant (2008) alongside French special forces but operating with army or navy special forces doesn't make GIGN a special force in the NATO meaning of the term. And the fact that the Gendarmerie is now part of the Ministry of Interior clearly shows that this is not going to change.

To sum up, I think the term "special operations" should not even appear in the article and the only reasons to leave it there at this time are : 1- because the selection process, training and technical expertise involved are similar to those of the military special forces and 2- for lack of a better term. A better term indeed should be "Special police operations" or "Special Law enforcement operations" (see List of special law enforcement units). Maybe we should create such an article and use this term in the GIGN article instead of "special operations".

Best regards, --Domenjod (talk) 10:59, 3 January 2017 (UTC)

I disagree. And as far as the NATO meaning of the term, how is hostage rescue and counter terrorism against HVTs make the GIGN conventional in any way? That is not special operations? You don't see your regular police or military force doing that. And yes I understand how the GIGN primarily engaged in peacetime operations as a special police force, but at the end of the day they possess much more capabilities than operating internally. So "special police operations" isn't very suitable, as it's not all they're capable of or trained to do. They're a special operations force specializing in hostage rescue and high value counter terrorism. They train with units all over the world and have operated all over the world. Different priorities and national interest have put their main focus on internal issues, but again, it's not their only capability which makes them more than a special police force. USMC Lance (talk) 09:03, 4 January 2017 (UTC)
Hello, @USMC Lance:I see your point but I think you're missing mine (maybe it's my fault and I didn't explain well enough). The more I think of it, the more I find the term "Special law enforcement unit" appropriate. GIGN is definitely an elite unit and its personnel are trained to the same level of expertise as the special operations units. The difference is :
1 GIGNs mission is not to fight an ennemy army (contrary to the British SAS or the US Delta or Seals for exemple). And they are not going to engage in such type of unconventional warfare as guerilla for exemple.
2 GIGN operators are gendarmes and operate according to the French laws. Most if not all of their actions will have a judiciary ending.
3 In practice the vast majority of GIGN missions are police missions like protection, surveillance of criminals or national threats and arrest of dangerous criminals - or deranged persons - in high risk missions. Of course, they are trained for high level counter-terrorism - in France or abroad - but special operations abroad are really the realm of COS (Commandement des Opérations Spéciales) the Special Operations Command, a joint Army/Navy/Air Force organization, for the "official" missions (ie those that are "avowable" if you will) and of the DGSE's Service Action for those that are not - or must remain secret. Even the 2015 Bamako hotel attack was handled by US and French special force personnel (GIGN was sent but arrived after the assault, otherwise it could have been a shared mission).
To be clear, my aim is certainly not to demean GIGN, an elite unit whose history I have followed up since its creation in 1973 (by the way, they allowed me to take most of the pictures illustrating the article which doesn't make a spokeperson of me but tells you I know a little bit about them). Since Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, I am just trying to find a better term than special operations for units such as GIGN (or GSG9) that are really law enforcement units. If you will, they are a special brand of special operations unit but I think WP, as an encyclopedia, should help the readers understand the differences. Best regards, --Domenjod (talk) 10:19, 4 January 2017 (UTC)

Okay that's fair, I now get what you mean much more and you bring up good points. I just think special police force would kind of distract from their full capabilities, you know what I mean? Just because of the wording, but your points are well within reason. USMC Lance (talk) 06:04, 7 January 2017 (UTC)