National Gendarmerie Intervention Group (GIGN)

National Gendarmerie Intervention Group (GIGN)
Home NationFrance 
Motto‘A commitment for life’
Date Founded1973 following the Munich Massacre 
Key StatisticsSize: 1000+ operators split across four ‘forces’ a ‘detachment’ and support divisions: Intervention Force, Observation and Search Force, Security and Protection Force, Regional Branches Force, Gendarmerie Detachment of the GSPR Presidential Security Group, Engineering and support division/ training division.

Funding: no available data

Diversity: Female operators may serve in the latter 5 segments of GIGN but not the intervention force.
Regimental RemitSpecialism: counter terrorism, hostage rescue, law enforcement surveillance, protection of government officials and targeting organised crime. 

Where are they based: 400 operators are based at their headquarters in Versailles with the other 600 operators based at regional headquarters around France. 

Operating location(s): as a counter-terrorism agency it targets mainly domestic threats but within its remit as a regiment of the armed forces it can operate overseas and has done, usually in the capacity of counter-insurgency advisors/ VIP protection.
Noteworthy Operations1994 Air France Flight 8969: The plane was hijacked by members of the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria in an affront to a ‘symbol’ of Western imperialism. After multiple hostages were murdered while the plane was on the runway in Algeria the ALgerian prime minister authorised the plane to takeoff. Their target was to detonate the plane over the eiffel tower in Paris but had organised a refuelling stop in Marseille. In an extremely well planned and well executed operation GIGN stormed the aircraft on the runway killing all the hijackers without any operator or further hostage fatalities. This event was televised and brought GIGN to international recognition.

2015 Charlie Hebdo shooting: GIGN operators led the manhunt for the perpetrators of the shooting and neutralised the gunmen when they were found two days after the shooting inside a signage production company building in Dammartin-en-Goële.

2018 Carcassonne and Trèbes attack: GIGN operators stormed a supermarket in Trèbes where Redouane Lakdim was holed up after killing police officers in Carcassonne and taking hostages. Two operators were wounded in the raid but the hostages were saved.
Any ScandalsIrish of Vincennes Affair: Following a terrorist attack in 1982 three Irish nationals were arrested by the GIGN. However, it quickly came to light that the individuals had nothing to do with the attack and weapons/ explosives were planted in their apartment as false evidence. The subsequent investigation highlighted that reports of the arrest had been fabricated and in 1992 the three GIGN operators involved were charged with perverting the course of justice, and conspiracy to do so albeit with short sentences and one was later acquitted. 

Ouvéa Cave Hostage Taking: In 1988 members of the Kanak and Socialist Liberation Front killed four gendarmes and took 27 hostage on the island of Ouvéa, part of a string of islands called New Caledonia, a French overseas territory. The group then took the hostages to a cave on the island and demanded the independence of New Caledonia from France. GIGN were dispatched to deal with the situation after the French government refused to negotiate. The initial assault was criticised with ineptitude as the operators were not correctly positioned which alerted the enemy and prematurely began the firefight resulting in the death of two operators and wounding of another. After a confusing violent assault the hostages were freed unharmed and all of the hostage-takers were killed or captured. The real controversy came after allegations that GIGN operators had summarily executed three separatists after they had surrendered. There was conflicting evidence and testimonies over whether the executions actually took place with multiple investigations leading to a dropping of charges on all sides and a general amnesty of both GIGN operators and seperaist hostage takers. 
Noteworthy Distinctions/ extra informationGIGN are widely regarded as one of the best trained and equiped counter-terrorist forces in the world, as of 2014 it had been involved in 1,800 missions and rescued more than 600 hostages while only losing 2 men in active service making it one of the most experienced counter-terroism units in the world. An interesting fact is that they have the highest sniper trained ratio of any special forces group at 100%.

The end of GIGN training requires a ‘trust shot’ before a candidate can pass in which one of his peers must stand at a distance of 15 yards wearing a body army with a clay pigeon strapped to his chest. The candidate must then shoot his peer in a part technical test but mainly symbolic trust and self-belief test. 
GIGN was the fourth specific counter-terrorim unit created worldwide in the modern world.