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Commando Parachute Group
Le 11e.B.P..jpg
11e bataillon parachutistes insignia
Active 1965-present
Country France
Branch French Army
Type

Special Forces Pathfinder Airborne

Commando
Role reconnaissance
Size 19 team
Part of Commandement de la force d'action terrestre
Second circle of Commandement des Opérations Spéciales
Nickname(s) GCP

The Commando Parachute Group (French language: Groupement des Commandos Parachutistes, GCP) is a special forces unit in the 11th Parachute Brigade of the French Army that is within the second "circle" of authority of the Commandement des Opérations Spéciales.

Each regiment within the 11th Parachute Brigade (11e Brigade Parachutiste) trains one or two GCP teams from their own ranks, which then can act as recon, pathfinding or harassment forces for their home regiment, coordinating with the other GCP teams within the brigade or working independently behind enemy lines. More rarely the GCP is requisitioned by the French intelligence service (DGSE) to carry out sensitive or "black ops" missions. GCP teams are also trained to conduct hostage rescue missions in extreme cases.

There are nineteen teams with about a dozen members each in the GCP, which is structured as follows:

  • 1st Parachute Chasseur Regiment (1er Régiment de chasseurs parachutistes) (three teams of ten commandos)
  • 1st Parachute Hussar Regiment (1er Régiment de hussards parachutistes) (two teams)
  • 1st Parachute Logistics Regiment (1er Régiment du train parachutiste)
  • 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment (2e régiment étranger de parachutistes) (three teams)
  • 3rd Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment (3e Régiment de parachutistes d'infanterie de marine) (two teams)
  • 8th Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment (8e Régiment de parachutistes d'infanterie de marine) (two teams)
  • 17th Engineer Parachute Regiment (17e Régiment de génie parachutiste) (two teams)
  • 35th Artillery Parachute Regiment (35e régiment d'artillerie parachutiste) (two teams)
  • 11th Parachute Command and Transmission Company (11ème Compagnie de Commandement et de Transmissions Parachutiste (11e CCTP))

A Parachute Commando of a GCP team from the 1st Parachute Hussar Regiment jumping

The GCP was founded in 1965 as Équipes de Saut Ouverture à Grande Hauteur (SOGH, High Altitude Jump Teams or HAHO Teams). In 1982, the unit was renamed Commandos de Recherche et d'Action en Profondeur (CRAP, "Deep Action and Recon Commando") before being renamed again as Groupement des Commandos Parachutiste (GCP) in 1999. Apparently, the unit was renamed as GCP after a discussion between the commander of CRAP at the time, Lieutenant Colonel Pascal Chapoulaud, and a US Army officer whilst on operations. The US Army officer had asked the commander of CRAP if he knew the meaning of the word 'crap' in English. Lieutenant Colonel Chapoulaud replied that he did not know, and asked a translator what the word meant. The translator informed the lieutenant colonel that the word 'crap' meant the equivalent of 'shit' in the French language. The unit's name of 'CRAP' thus changed to 'GCP' after this event.

The GCP had its first operational deployment in 1969 when the SOGH of 2e REP went to Chad. Ever since, the GCP has participated in many of France's military commitments, most noticeably in the War in Afghanistan (2001–present).

Selection[edit | edit source]

In order to serve in the GCP the candidate must meet the following requirements-

  • To belong to a regiment of the 11th Parachute Brigade (11e Brigade Parachutiste)
  • To have done a number of years of active service in the French armed forces
  • To be medically fit to parachute jump and thus acquiring the following qualifications: TAP et Chuteurs Opérationnels.

S I G Y C O P (Troupes Aéroportées)

2 1 2 3 3 2 1

S I G Y C O P (Chuteurs Opérationnels)

2 1 2 3 2 2 1

  • To be adept whilst out in the field (more than four months of experience of operational exercises (OPEX) or operational experience).
  • To have a security clearance
  • To hold the rank of at least corporal
  • To pass Pre-Selection, which consists of:
    • 2 rope climbs carrying full fighting order
    • A swim in combat fatigues that includes underwater tests and 5 meter rope climb from the water; depending on mother regiment this may be in rough winter seas.
    • An obstacle course to be completed under a set time.
    • An orientation/navigation test to be completed under a set time.
    • A 30 km TAP in full fighting order to be completed under a set time with record held by CCH of 2REP GCP in 2hrs 28 min
    • 1500m and 8000m runs in full fighting order to be completed under set times.
    • Unarmed combat skills and aggression tests including 'milling' a type of no rules boxing.
    • An interview and general skills testing with current serving members of the GCP
  • To pass the physically and mentally demanding Brevet Niveaux 1 et 2 du Centre National d'Entraînement Commando (The National Commando Training Centre) (CNEC) at Mont-Louis
    • Brevet Niveau 1 : « Commando Entrainement »
    • Brevet Niveau 2 : « Moniteur des Techniques Commandos » for senior NCOs and officers or « Moniteur des Techniques Commandos Spécialisés » for junior NCOs
    • Brevet Niveau 3 : « Instructeur des Techniques Commandos »
  • To pass the 'Chuteur Opérationnel' de l'ETAP course (stage 55 501 SOGH) that lasts three months.

When the candidate has passed all of these tests he is now able to serve within one of the teams of the GCP.

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