French GIGN

GIGN is one of the world's busiest and best Counter-Terrorist units. Between 1974 and 1985 they participated in over 650 operations that freed over 500 hostages and eliminated dozens of terrorists. Over 1,000 have been arrested. In that same time they suffered 5 dead and dozens severly wounded (nine were wounded in the recent assault of Air France flight 8969).

GIGN was initially formed in 1974 and was to be no greater than 100 operators. Since then it has never been larger than 90 members. GIGN has always been inventive and effective in their operations. In their operational debut, a takedown of a bus in Djibouti (February, 1976), sandwiches that were permitted by the terrorists to be fed to the hostages were drugged. The tranquilized hostages (30 school children) fell asleep, thus clearing the view for GIGN snipers.

GIGN is also very well traveled. In addition to Djibouti, they have operated in New Caledonia, Lebanon, Sudan, and the Island nation of Comoros.

Because GIGN operates all over the world, operators need to be able to function in a myriad of environments. They train in alpine and winter environments in addition to the urban. They are proficient in parachute insertions as well as SCUBA operations; it is reported that they make a jump in full SCUBA gear at least once a year.

GIGN operators come exclusively from the ranks of the Gendarmerie. In order to be eligable, a volunteeer needs a minimum of five years experience with an exemplary record. Reports have indicated that of those with this service record, as low as seven percent are excepted. After acceptance, operators are trained for ten months (keep in mind, these are officers that already have at least five years experience). GIGN operators are expected to know not only the weapons they deploy with, but also any possible weapons their adversaries might be equipped with.