The French Army, officially the Ground Army (French: Armée de terre [aʀme də tɛʀ], lit. Army of land) to distinguish it from the French Air Force, Armée de l'Air or Air Army, is the land-based and largest component of the French Armed Forces. It is responsible to the Government of France, along with the other four components of the Armed Forces. The current Chief of Staff of the French Army (CEMAT) is General Jean-Pierre Bosser, a direct subordinate of the Chief of the Defence Staff (CEMA). General Bosser is also responsible, in part, to the Ministry of the Armed Forces for organization, preparation, use of forces, as well as planning and programming, equipment and Army future acquisitions. For active service, Army units are placed under the authority of the Chief of the Defence Staff (CEMA), who is responsible to the President of France for planning for, and use, of forces.
As of 2017, the French Army employed 117,000 personnel (including the French Foreign Legion and the Paris Fire Brigade). In addition, the reserve element of the French Army consisted of 15,453 personnel of the Operational Reserve.
In 1999, the Army issued the Code of the French Soldier, which includes the injunctions:
|Land Forces Of France|
|Armée de terre|
|Active||15th century – present|
|Size||117,000 active plus 15,750 reserves|
|Part of||French Armed Forces|
|Nickname(s)||La grande muette|
"The great mute one"
|Motto(s)||Honneur et Patrie|
"Honour and Fatherland"
|Chef d'État-Major de l'Armée de Terre, CEMAT||Général d'armée Jean-Pierre Bosser|
|Major Général de l'Armée de Terre||French Army Deputy Chief|
The first permanent army, paid with regular wages, instead of feudal levies, was established under Charles VII in the 1420–30s. The Kings of France needed reliable troops during and after the Hundred Years' War. These units of troops were raised by issuing ordonnances to govern their length of service, composition and payment. These Compagnies d'ordonnance formed the core of the Gendarme Cavalry into the sixteenth century. Stationed throughout France and summoned into larger armies as needed. There was also provision made for "Francs-archers" units of bowmen and foot soldiers raised from the non-noble classes but these units were disbanded once war ended.
The bulk of the infantry for warfare was still provided by urban or provincial militias, raised from an area or city to fight locally and named for their recruiting grounds. Gradually these units became more permanent, and in 1480s Swiss instructors were recruited and some of the 'Bandes' (Militia) were combined to form temporary 'Legions' of up to 9000 men. These men would be paid and contracted and receive training.
Henry II further regularised the French army by forming standing Infantry regiments to replace the Militia structure. The first of these—the Régiments de Picardie, Piémont, Navarre and Champagne—were called Les Vieux Corps (The Old Corps). It was normal policy to disband regiments after a war was over as a cost saving measure with the Vieux Corps and the King's own Household Troops the Maison du Roi being the only survivors.
Regiments could be raised directly by the King and so called after the region in which they were raised, or by the nobility and so called after the noble or his appointed colonel. When Louis XIII came to the throne he disbanded most of the regiments in existence leaving only the Vieux and a handful of others which became known as the Petite Vieux and also gained the privilege of not being disbanded after a war.
In 1684 there was a major reorganisation of the French infantry and again in 1701 to fit in with Louis XIV's plans and the War of the Spanish Succession. This reshuffle created many of the modern regiments of the French Army and standardised their equipment and tactics. The army of the Sun King tended to wear grey-white coats with coloured linings. There were exceptions and the foreign troops, recruited from outside France, wore red (Swiss, Irish...) or blue (Germans, Scots...) while the French Guards wore blue. In addition to these regiments of the line the Maison du Roi provided several elite units, the Swiss Guards, French Guards and the Regiments of Musketeers being the most famous. The white/grey coated French Infantry of the line Les Blancs with their Charleville muskets were a feared foe on the battlefields of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, fighting in the Nine Years' War, the Wars of Spanish and Austrian Succession, the Seven Years' War and the American Revolution.
The revolution split the army with the main mass losing most of its officers to aristocratic flight or guillotine and becoming demoralised and ineffective. The French Guard joined the revolt and the Swiss Guards were massacred during the storming of the Tuileries palace. The remnants of the royal army were then joined to the revolutionary militias known as sans-culottes, and the "National Guard" a more middle class militia and police force, to form the French Revolutionary Army.
From 1792, the French Revolutionary Army fought against various combinations of European powers, initially reliant on large numbers and basic tactics, it was defeated bloodily but survived and drove its opponents first from French soil and then overran several countries creating client states.
Under Napoleon I, the French Army conquered most of Europe during the Napoleonic Wars. Professionalising again from the Revolutionary forces and using columns of attack with heavy artillery support and swarms of pursuit cavalry the French army under Napoleon and his marshals was able to outmanoeuvre and destroy the allied armies repeatedly until 1812. Napoleon introduced the concept of all arms Corps, each one a traditional army 'in miniature', permitting the field force to be split across several lines of march and rejoin or to operate independently. The Grande Armée operated by seeking a decisive battle with each enemy army and then destroying them in detail before rapidly occupying territory and forcing a peace.
In 1812 Napoleon marched on Moscow seeking to remove Russian influence from eastern Europe and secure the frontiers of his empire and client states. The campaign initially went well but the vast distances of the Russian Steppe and the cold winter forced his army into a shambling retreat preyed on by Russian raids and pursuit. The Grand Army of the 1812 Campaign could not be replaced and with the "ulcer" of the ongoing peninsular war against Britain and Portugal in Spain the French army was badly short of trained troops and French manpower was almost exhausted.
After Napoleon's abdication and return, halted by an Anglo-Dutch and Prussian alliance at Waterloo, the French army was placed back under the restored Bourbon Monarchy. The structure remained largely unchanged and many officers of the Empire retained their positions.
The Bourbon restoration was a time of political instability with the country constantly on the verge of political violence. 
The army was committed to a defense of the Spanish monarchy in 1824, achieving its aims in six months, but did not fully withdraw until 1828, in contrast to the earlier Napoleonic invasion this expedition was rapid and successful.
Taking advantage of the weakness of the bey of Algiers France invaded in 1830 and again rapidly overcame initial resistance, the French government formally annexed Algeria but it took nearly 45 years to fully pacify the country. This period of French history saw the creation of the Armée d’Afrique, which included the French Foreign Legion. The Army was now uniformed in dark blue coats and red trousers, which it would retain until the First World War.
The news of the fall of Algiers had barely reached Paris in 1830 when the Bourbon Monarchy was overthrown and replaced by the constitutional Orleans Monarchy, the mobs proved too much for the troops of the Maison du Roi and the main body of the French Army, sympathetic to the crowds, did not become heavily involved.
In 1848 a wave of revolutions swept Europe and brought an end to the Bourbon monarchy. The army was large uninvolved in the street fighting in Paris which overthew the King but later in the year troops were used in the suppression of the more radical elements of the new Republic which led to the election of Napoleon's nephew as president.
The Pope had been forced out of Rome as part of the Revolutions of 1848, and Louis Napoleon sent a 14,000 man expeditionary force of troops to the Papal State under General Nicolas Charles Victor Oudinot to restore him. In late April 1849, it was defeated and pushed back from Rome by Giuseppi Garibaldi's volunteer corps, but then recovered and recaptured Rome.
The French army was among the first in the world to be issued with Minié rifles, just in time for the Crimean War against Russia, allied with Britain. This invention gave line infantry a weapon with a much longer range and greater accuracy and would lead to new flexible tactics. The French army was more experienced at mass manoeuvre and war fighting than the British and the reputation of the French army was greatly enhanced.
A series of colonial expeditions followed and in 1856 France joined the Second Opium War on the British side against China; obtaining concessions. French troops were deployed into Italy against the Austrians, the first use of railways for mass movement.
The French army was now considered to be an example to others and military missions to Japan and the emulation of French Zouaves in other militaries added to this prestige. However an expedition to Mexico failed to create a stable puppet régime.
In 1870 France was humiliated by defeat in the Franco-Prussian war. The army had far superior infantry weapons in the form of the Chassepot and an early type of machine-gun but its tactics were inferior and by allowing the invading German force the initiative the army was rapidly bottled up into its fortress towns and defeated. The loss of prestige within the army lead to a great emphasis on aggression and close quarter tactics.
In August 1914, the French Armed Forces numbered 1,300,000 soldiers. During the Great War, the French had called up 8,817,000 men, including 900,000 colonial troops. During the war around 1,397,000 French soldiers were killed in action, mostly on the Western Front. It was the most deadly conflict in French history. The main generals were: Joseph Joffre, Ferdinand Foch, Charles Mangin, Philippe Pétain, Robert Nivelle, Franchet d'Esperey and Maurice Sarrail (See French Army in World War I). At the beginning of the war, the French Army was wearing the uniform of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, but the uniform was unsuited to the trenches, and so in 1915 the French Army replaced the uniform, with the Adrian helmet replacing the képi. A uniform with a capote, of bleu-horizon colour adopted to the trenches, was adopted, and the uniform for colonial soldiers coloured khaki.
At the beginning of the Battle of France the French Army deployed 2,240,000 combatants grouped into 94 divisions (of which 20 were active and 74 were reservists) from the Swiss border to the North Sea. These numbers did not include the Army of the Alps facing Italy and 600,000 men dispersed through the French colonial empire are not included in this figure. After defeat in 1940, the Vichy French regime was allowed to retain 100–120,000 personnel in unoccupied France, and larger forces in the French Empire: more than 220,000 in Africa (including 140,000 in French North Africa), and forces in Mandate Syria and French Indochina.
After 1945, despite enormous efforts in the First Indochina War of 1945–54 and the Algerian War of 1954–62, both lands eventually left French control. French units stayed in Germany after 1945, forming the French Forces in Germany. 5th Armored Division stayed on in Germany after 1945, while 1st and 3rd Armoured Divisions were established in Germany in 1951. However NATO-assigned formations were withdrawn to fight in Algeria; 5th Armoured Division was withdrawn in 1956. From 1948 to 1966, many French Army units fell under the integrated NATO Military Command Structure. Commander-in-Chief Allied Forces Central Europe was a French Army officer, and many key NATO staff positions were filled by Frenchmen. While an upper limit of 14 French divisions committed to NATO had been set by the Treaty of Paris, the total did not exceed six divisions during the Indochina War, and during the Algerian War the total fell as low as two divisions.
The Army created two parachute divisions in 1956, the 10th Parachute Division under the command of General Jacques Massu and the 25th Parachute Division under the command of General Sauvagnac. After the Algiers putsch, the two divisions, with the 11th Infantry Division, were merged into a new light intervention division, the 11th Light Intervention Division, on 1 May 1961.
At the end of World War II France was immediately confronted with the beginnings of the decolonisation movement. The French army, which had employed indigenous North African spahis and tirailleurs in almost all of its campaigns since 1830, was the leading force in opposition to decolonization, which was perceived as a humiliation. In Algeria the Army repressed an extensive rising in and around Sétif in May 1945 with heavy fire: figures for Algerian deaths vary between 45,000 as claimed by Radio Cairo at the time and the official French figure of 1,020.
The Army saw maintaining control of Algeria as a high priority. By this time, one million French settlers had established themselves, alongside an indigenous population of nine million. When it decided that politicians were about to sell them out and give independence to Algeria, the Army engineered a military coup that toppled the civilian government and put General de Gaulle back in power in the May 1958 crisis. De Gaulle, however, recognized that Algeria was a dead weight and had to be cut free. Four retired generals then launched the Algiers putsch of 1961 against de Gaulle himself, but it failed. After 400,000 deaths, Algeria finally became independent. Hundreds of thousands of Harkis, Moslems loyal to Paris, went into exile in France, where they and their children and grandchildren remain in poorly assimilated "banlieue" suburbs.
During the Cold War, the French Army, though not part of NATO's military command structure, planned for the defence of Western Europe. In 1977 the French Army switched from multi-brigade divisions to smaller divisions of about four to five battalions/regiments each. From the early 1970s, 2nd Army Corps was stationed in South Germany, and effectively formed a reserve for NATO's Central Army Group. In the 1980s, 3rd Army Corps headquarters was moved to Lille and planning started for its use in support of NATO's Northern Army Group. The Rapid Action Force of five light divisions, including the new 4th Airmobile and 6th Light Armoured Divisions, was also intended as a NATO reinforcement force. In addition, the 152nd Infantry Division was maintained to guard the S3 intercontinental ballistic missile base on the Plateau d'Albion.
In the 1970s–1980s, two light armoured divisions were planned to be formed from school staffs (the 12th and 14th). The 12th Light Armoured Division (12 DLB) was to have its headquarters to be formed on the basis of the staff of the Armoured and Cavalry Branch Training School (French acronym EAABC) at Saumur.
In the late 1970s an attempt was made to form 14 reserve light infantry divisions, but this plan, which included the recreation of the 109th Infantry Division, was too ambitious. The planned divisions included the 102nd, 104e, 107e, 108e, 109e, 110e, 111e, 112e, 114e, 115th, and 127th Infantry Divisions. From June 1984, the French Army reserve consisted of 22 military divisions, administering all reserve units in a certain area, seven brigades de zone de defence, 22 regiments interarmees divisionnaires, and the 152nd Infantry Division, defending the ICBM launch sites. The plan was put into action from 1985, and brigades de zone, such as the 107th Brigade de Zone, were created. But with the putting-in-place of the "Réserves 2000" plan, the brigades de zone were finally disbanded by mid-1993.
1st Army Corps was disbanded on 1 July 1990.
In February 1996 the President of the Republic decided on a transition to a professional service force, and as part of the resulting changes, ten regiments were dissolved in 1997. The specialized support brigades were transferred on 1 July 1997 to Lunéville for the signals, Haguenau (the artillery brigade) and Strasbourg (engineers). The 2nd Armoured Division left Versailles on 1 September 1997 and was installed at Châlons-en-Champagne in place of the disbanding 10th Armoured Division. On 5 March 1998, in view of the ongoing structural adoptions of the French Army, the Minister of Defence decided to disband III Corps, and the dissolution became effective 1 July 1998. The headquarters transitioned to become Headquarters Commandement de la force d'action terrestre (CFAT) (the Land Forces Action Command).
During the late 1990s, during the professionalisation process, numbers dropped from the 236,000 (132,000 conscripts) in 1996 to around 140,000. By June 1999, the Army's strength had dropped to 186,000, including around 70,000 conscripts. 38 of 129 regiments were planned to be stood down from 1997–99. The previous structure's nine 'small' divisions and sundry separate combat and combat support brigades were replaced by nine combat and four combat support brigades. The Rapid Action Force, a corps of five small rapid-intervention divisions formed in 1983, was also disbanded, though several of its divisions were re-subordinated.
Opération Sentinelle is a French military operation with 10,000 soldiers and 4,700 police and gendarmes deployed since the aftermath of the January 2015 Île-de-France attacks, with the objective of protecting sensitive "points" of the territory from terrorism. It was reinforced during the November 2015 Paris attacks, and is part of an ongoing state of emergency in France due to continued terror threats and attacks.
The organisation of the army is fixed by Chapter 2 of Title II of Book II of the Third Part of the Code of Defense, notably resulting in the codification of Decree 2000-559 of 21 June 2000.
In terms of Article R.3222-3 of the Code of Defence, the Army comprises:
The French Army was reorganized in 2016. The new organisation consists of two combined divisions (carrying the heritage of 1st Armored and 3rd Armored divisions) and given three combat brigades to supervise each. There is also the Franco-German Brigade. The 4th Airmobile Brigade was reformed to direct the three combat helicopter regiments. There are also several division-level (niveau divisionnaire) specialized commands including Intelligence, Information and communication systems, Maintenance, Logistics, Special Forces, Army Light Aviation, Foreign Legion, National Territory, Training.
The Army is divided into arms (armes). They include the Troupes de Marine, the Armoured Cavalry Arm (Arme Blindée Cavalerie), the Artillery, the Engineering Arm (l'arme du génie); the Infantry, which includes the Chasseurs Alpins, specialist mountain infantry, Materiel Matériel; Logistics (Train); Signals (Transmissions). Parachute units are maintained by several of the armes.
The Légion étrangère (French Foreign Legion) was established in 1831 for foreign nationals willing to serve in the French Armed Forces. The Legion is commanded by French officers. It is an elite military unit numbering around 7,000 troops. The Legion has gained worldwide recognition for its service, most recently in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan since 2001. It is not strictly an Arme but a commandement particulier, whose regiments belong to several arms, notably the infantry and the engineering arm.
The Troupes de marine are the former Colonial Troops of the l'Armee de terre. They are the first choice units for overseas deployment and recruit on this basis. They are composed of Marine Infantry (Infanterie de Marine) (which includes parachute regiments such as 1er RPIMa and a tank unit, the RICM) and the Marine Artillery (Artillerie de Marine).
The Aviation légère de l'Armée de terre (ALAT, which translates as Army Light Aviation), was established on 22 November 1954 for observation, reconnaissance, assault and supply duties. It operates numerous helicopters in support of the French Army, its primary attack helicopter is the Eurocopter Tiger, of which 80 were ordered. It is an Arme with a commandement particulier.
On the administrative side, there are now no more than one Direction and two services.
The Army Human Resources Directorate (DRHAT) manages human resources (military and civilian) of the Army and training.
The two Services are the service of ground equipment, and the integrated structure of operational maintenance of terrestrial materials (SIMMT, former DCMAT). This joint oriented service is responsible for project management support for all land equipment of the French army. The holding-operational equipment the Army is headed by the Service de maintenance industrielle terrestre (SMITer).
Historically there were other services of the Army who were all grouped together with their counterparts in other components to form joint agencies serving the entire French Armed Forces.
The Army Commissariat was dissolved on 31 December 2009 and intégrated into the joint-service Service du commissariat des armées.
For many years up to 19 military regions were active (see fr:Région militaire). The 10th Military Region (France) supervised French Algeria during the Algerian War. However, by the 1980s the number had been reduced to six: the 1st Military Region (France) with its headquarters in Paris, the 2nd Military Region (France) at Lille, the 3rd Military Region (France) at Rennes, the 4th Military Region (France) at Bordeaux, the 5th and 6th at Lyons and Metz respectively. Each supervised up to five division militaire territoriale – military administrative sub-divisions, in 1984 sometimes supervising up to three reserve regiments each. Today, under the latest thorough reform of the French security and defence sector, there are seven fr:Zone de défense et de sécurité each with a territorial ground army region: Paris (or Île-de-France, HQ in Paris), Nord (HQ in Lille), Ouest (HQ in Rennes), Sud-Ouest (HQ in Bordeaux), Sud (HQ in Marseille), Sud-Est (HQ in Lyon), Est (HQ in Strasbourg).
There are two types of enlistment for French army soldiers:
NCOs serve on permanent contracts, or exceptionally on renewable five years-contracts. NCO candidates are either EVAT or direct entry civilians. High school diploma giving access to university is a requirement. École Nationale des Sous-Officiers d’Active (ENSOA), Basic NCO school of 8 months, followed by combat school of 4 to 36 weeks depending on occupational specialty. A small number of NCO candidates are trained at the Ecole Militaire de Haute Montagne (EMHM) (High Mountain Military School). NCOs with the Advanced Army Technician Certificate (BSTAT) can serve as platoon leaders.
Career officers serve on permanent contracts.
Contract officers serves on renewable contracts for a maximum of 20 years service. A bachelor's degree is required. There are two different programs, combat officers and specialist officers. Officers in both programs graduates as Second Lieutenants and may reach Lieutenant Colonels rank. Combat officers spend six months at ESM, followed by one year at a combat school. Specialist officers spend three months at ESM, followed by a year of on the job-training within an area of specialization determined by the type of degree held.
Civilian women were hired by the French army in the First World War, thereby opening new opportunities for them, forcing a redefinition of military identity, and revealing the strength of anti-Republicanism within the Army. Officers by the 1920s accepted women as part of their institution. 
In the 1970s, France adopted a light beige dress uniform which is worn with coloured kepis, sashes, fringed epaulettes, fourragères and other traditional items on appropriate occasions. The most commonly worn parade dress however consists of camouflage uniforms worn with the dress items noted above. The camouflage pattern, officially called Centre Europe (CE), draws heavily on the coloration incorporated into the US M81 woodland design, but with a thicker and heavier striping. A desert version called the Daguet has been worn since the First Gulf War which consist of large irregular areas of chestnut brown and light grey on a sand khaki base.
The legionnaires of the French Foreign Legion wear white kepis, blue sashes and green and red epaulettes as dress uniform, while the Troupes de marine wear blue and red kepis and yellow epaulettes. The pioneers of the French Foreign Legion wear the basic legionnaire uniform but with leather aprons and gloves. The Chasseurs Alpins wear a large beret, known as the "tarte" (the pie) with dark blue or white mountain outfits. The Spahis retain the long white cloak or "burnous" of the regiment's origin as North African cavalry.
Gendarmes of the Republican Guard retain their late 19th century dress uniforms, as do the military cadets of Saint-Cyr and the École Polytechnique. A dark blue/black evening dress is authorized for officers and individual branches or regiments may parade bands or "fanfares" in historic dress dating as far back as the Napoleonic period.
The 1917 French Army mutinies took place amongst French Army troops on the Western Front in Northern France during World War I. They started just after the unsuccessful and costly Second Battle of the Aisne, the main action in the Nivelle Offensive in April 1917. General Robert Nivelle had promised a decisive war-ending victory over the Germans in 48 hours; the men were euphoric on entering the battle. The shock of failure soured their mood overnight.
The mutinies and associated disruptions involved, to various degrees, nearly half of the French infantry divisions stationed on the Western Front. The term "mutiny" does not accurately describe events: soldiers remained in trenches and were willing to defend but rejected attack orders. The new commander, General Philippe Pétain, restored morale by talking to the men, promising no more suicidal attacks, providing rest for exhausted units, home leave, and moderate discipline. He held 3,400 courts martial; 554 mutineers were sentenced to death but only 26 were actually executed.While the immediate cause was the extreme optimism and subsequent disappointment at the Nivelle Offensive in the spring of 1917, other causes were pacifism (stimulated by the Russian Revolution and the trade-union movement) and disappointment at the non-arrival of American troops, whom French soldiers on the front had unrealistically been expecting to arrive within days of the U.S. declaration of war. The mutinies were kept secret from the Germans and their full extent was not revealed until decades later. The Germans' inability to detect the mutinies has been described as one of the most serious and most consequential intelligence failures of the war.1st Army (France)
The First Army (French: 1re Armée) was a field army of France that fought during World War I and World War II. It was also active during the Cold War.Algerian War
The Algerian War, also known as the Algerian War of Independence or the Algerian Revolution (Arabic: الثورة الجزائرية Al-thawra Al-Jazaa'iriyya; Berber languages: Tagrawla Tadzayrit; French: Guerre d'Algérie or Révolution algérienne) was fought between France and the Algerian National Liberation Front (French: Front de Libération Nationale – FLN) from 1954 to 1962, which led to Algeria gaining its independence from France. An important decolonization war, it was a complex conflict characterized by guerrilla warfare, maquis fighting, and the use of torture. The conflict also became a civil war between the different communities and within the communities. The war took place mainly on the territory of Algeria, with repercussions in metropolitan France.
Effectively started by members of the National Liberation Front (FLN) on November 1, 1954, during the Toussaint Rouge ("Red All Saints' Day"), the conflict led to serious political crises in France, causing the fall of the Fourth French Republic (1946–58) replaced by the Fifth Republic with a strengthened Presidency. The brutality of the methods employed by the French forces failed to win hearts and minds in Algeria, alienated support in metropolitan France and discredited French prestige abroad.After major demonstrations in Algiers and several other cities in favor of independence (1960) and a United Nations resolution recognizing the right to independence, De Gaulle decided to open a series of negotiations with the FLN. These concluded with the signing of the Évian Accords in March 1962. A referendum took place on 8 April 1962 and the French electorate approved the Évian Accords. The final result was 91% in favor of the ratification of this agreement and on 1 July, the Accords were subject to a second referendum in Algeria, where 99.72% voted for independence and just 0.28% against.The planned French withdrawal led to a state crisis. This included various assassination attempts on de Gaulle as well as some attempts at military coups. Most of the former were carried out by the Organisation armée secrète (OAS), an underground organization formed mainly from French military personnel supporting a French Algeria, which committed a large number of bombings and murders both in Algeria and in the homeland to stop the planned independence.
Upon independence in 1962, 900,000 European-Algerians (Pieds-noirs) fled to France within a few months in fear of the FLN's revenge. The French government was totally unprepared for the vast number of refugees, which caused turmoil in France. The majority of Algerian Muslims who had worked for the French were disarmed and left behind as the treaty between French and Algerian authorities declared that no actions could be taken against them. However, the Harkis in particular, having served as auxiliaries with the French army, were regarded as traitors and many were murdered by the FLN or by lynch-mobs, often after being abducted and tortured. About 90,000 managed to flee to France, some with help from their French officers acting against orders, and as of 2016 they and their descendants form a significant part of the Algerian-French population.Army of Italy (France)
The Army of Italy (French: Armée d'Italie) was a field army of the French Army stationed on the Italian border and used for operations in Italy itself. Though it existed in some form in the 16th century through to the present, it is best known for its role during the French Revolutionary Wars (in which it was one of the early commands of Napoleon Bonaparte, during his Italian campaign) and Napoleonic Wars.Battle of Crécy
The Battle of Crécy (26 August 1346), also spelled Cressy, was an English victory during the Edwardian phase part of the Chevauchée of Edward III of 1346 during the Hundred Years' War. It was the first of three famous English successes during the conflict, followed by Poitiers in 1356 and Agincourt in 1415.
The battle was fought on 26 August 1346 near Crécy, in northern France. An army of English, Welsh, and allied mercenary troops led by Edward III of England, engaged and defeated a much larger army of French, Genoese and Majorcan troops led by Philip VI of France. Emboldened by the lessons of tactical flexibility and utilisation of terrain learned from the earlier Saxons, Vikings, Muslims and the recent battles with the Scots, the English army won an important victory.The battle heralded the rise of the longbow as the dominant weapon on the Western European battlefield, and helped to continue the rise of the infantryman in medieval warfare. Crécy also saw the use of the ribauldequin, an early cannon, by the English army. The heavy casualties taken by the French knightly class at the hands of peasants wielding ranged weapons was indicative of the decline of chivalry, and the emergence of a more practical, pragmatic approach to conducting warfare.The battle crippled the French army's ability to come to the aid of Calais, which fell to the English the following year. Calais would remain under English rule for over two centuries, falling in 1558.Battle of Landriano
The Battle of Landriano took place on 21 June 1529, between the French army under Francis de Bourbon, Comte de St. Pol and the Imperial–Spanish army commanded by Don Antonio de Leyva, Duke of Terranova in the context of the War of the League of Cognac. The French army was destroyed and marked the temporary end of the ambitions of Francis I of France to vie for control of northern Italy with Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.Battle of Neerwinden (1793)
The Battle of Neerwinden (18 March 1793) saw a Republican French army led by Charles François Dumouriez attack a Coalition army commanded by Prince Josias of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. The Coalition army's Habsburg Austrians together with a small contingent of allied Dutch Republic troops repulsed all French assaults after bitter fighting and Dumouriez conceded defeat, withdrawing from the field. The French position in the Austrian Netherlands swiftly collapsed, ending the threat to the Dutch Republic and allowing Austria to regain control of her lost province. The War of the First Coalition engagement was fought at Neerwinden, located 57 kilometres (35 mi) east of Brussels in present-day Belgium.
After Dumouriez's victory at Jemappes in November 1792, the French armies rapidly overran most of the Austrian Netherlands. Rather than driving the Austrians to the west bank of the Rhine River, Dumouriez and the French government became preoccupied with a war with the Dutch Republic. During the breathing space offered by her enemy, Austria assembled an army under the Prince of Coburg and struck back. After a French covering force was routed by Coburg at Aldenhoven, Dumouriez began gathering his army for a counterstroke.
Coburg took up a defensive position at Neerwinden and awaited the confident Dumouriez's attack. The Coalition army was outnumbered in infantry but possessed a two-to-one superiority in cavalry. After intense fighting, Coburg's troops repulsed the attacks of the French center and right wing. When Dumouriez found that his left wing was driven off the battlefield, he began retreating. The defeat led to mass desertions from the discouraged French volunteers. In the face of the military collapse, Dumouriez negotiated a free withdrawal of French troops in return for the surrender of Belgium and Dutch territory. Soon, Dumouriez was plotting against his own government and when his plans failed, he defected to the Austrians, leaving the French army in chaos.Battle of Poitiers
The Battle of Poitiers was a major English victory in the Edwardian phase of the Hundred Years' War. It was fought on 19 September 1356 in Nouaillé, near the city of Poitiers in Aquitaine, western France. Edward, the Black Prince, led an army of English, Welsh, Breton and Gascon troops, many of them veterans of the Battle of Crécy. They were attacked by a larger French force led by King John II of France, which included allied Scottish forces. The French were heavily defeated; an English counter-attack captured King John II along with his youngest son and much of the French nobility.The effect of the defeat on France was catastrophic, leaving Dauphin Charles to rule the country. Charles faced populist revolts across the kingdom in the wake of the battle, which had destroyed the prestige of the French upper-class. The Edwardian phase of the war ended four years later in 1360, on favourable terms for England.
Poitiers was the second major English victory of the Hundred Years' War. Poitiers was fought ten years after the Battle of Crécy (the first major victory), and about half a century before the third, the Battle of Agincourt (1415). The town and battle were often referred to as Poictiers in contemporaneous recordings, a name commemorated in several warships of the Royal Navy.Battle of Sedan
The Battle of Sedan was fought during the Franco-Prussian War from 1 to 2 September 1870. It resulted in the capture of Emperor Napoleon III and large numbers of his troops and for all intents and purposes decided the war in favour of Prussia and its allies, though fighting continued under a new French government.
The 130,000 strong French Army of Châlons, commanded by Marshal Patrice de MacMahon and accompanied by Napoleon III, was attempting to lift the Siege of Metz, only to be caught by the Prussian Fourth Army and defeated at the Battle of Beaumont on 30 August. Commanded by Generalfeldmarschall Helmuth von Moltke and accompanied by Prussian King Wilhelm I and Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, the Fourth Army and the Prussian Third Army encircled MacMahon's army at Sedan in a gigantic battle of annihilation. Marshal MacMahon was wounded during the attacks and command passed to General Auguste-Alexandre Ducrot, until it was taken over by General Emmanuel Félix de Wimpffen.
Pulverized from all sides by superior German artillery firepower and with all breakout attempts defeated, the French Army of Châlons capitulated on 2 September, with 104,000 men passing into German captivity along with 558 guns. Napoleon III was taken prisoner, while the French government in Paris continued the war and proclaimed a Government of National Defense on 4 September. The German armies besieged Paris on 19 September.Battles of El Bruch
The two Battles of the Bruch (Spanish: Batallas del Bruch; Catalan: Batalles del Bruc) were engagements fought successively between a French columns commanded by Brigadier General François de Schwarz and General of Division Joseph Chabran, and a body of Catalan volunteers and mercenaries led by General Antoni Franch i Estalella and Joan de la Creu Baiget, during the Peninsular War. The result of these battles and actions fought at El Bruc, near Barcelona, Catalonia, between 6–14 June 1808 was a Spanish victory. The Spanish also captured a French Imperial Eagle, adding to defeat a humiliation for the French army.Chasseur
Chasseur ( shass-UR; French: [ʃasœʁ]), a French term for "hunter", is the designation given to certain regiments of French and Belgian light infantry (chasseurs à pied) or light cavalry (chasseurs à cheval) to denote troops trained for rapid action.First Battle of Wissembourg (1793)
In the First Battle of Wissembourg (13 October 1793) an Allied army commanded by Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser attacked the French Army of the Rhine under Jean Pascal Carlenc. After an ineffectual resistance, the French army abandoned its fortified line behind the Lauter River and retreated toward Strasbourg in confusion. This engagement of the War of the First Coalition occurred on the eastern border of France about 60 kilometres (37 mi) north of Strasbourg.
After the Siege of Mainz in which the Prussian army captured the city, the Army of the Rhine fell back into the Lines of Weissenburg, a position first fortified in 1706. Soon Wurmser with an army composed of troops from Habsburg Austria, French Royalists and allied German states began putting pressure on the Lines. Meanwhile, the French army organization was in disarray after two previous army commanders were arrested and sent to Paris prisons. Since no one wanted to lead the army, the representatives on mission appointed Carlenc, recently a lieutenant colonel of cavalry. After a series of skirmishes, Wurmser launched a successful assault. After the French retreat, the inept Carlenc was arrested and replaced in army command by Jean-Charles Pichegru. At the urging of the government, Pichegru began launching a series of attacks designed to recover the lost territory. These resulted in the battles of Froeschwiller and Second Wissembourg.Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War (French: Guerre franco-allemande de 1870, German: Deutsch-Französischer Krieg), often referred to in France as the War of 1870, was a conflict between the Second French Empire and later the Third French Republic, and the German states of the North German Confederation led by the Kingdom of Prussia. Lasting from 19 July 1870 to 28 January 1871, the conflict was caused by Prussian ambitions to extend German unification and French fears of the shift in the European balance of power that would result if the Prussians succeeded. Some historians argue that the Prussian chancellor Otto von Bismarck deliberately provoked the French into declaring war on Prussia in order to draw the independent southern German states—Baden, Württemberg, Bavaria and Hesse-Darmstadt—into an alliance with the North German Confederation dominated by Prussia, while others contend that Bismarck did not plan anything and merely exploited the circumstances as they unfolded. None, however, dispute the fact that Bismarck must have recognized the potential for new German alliances, given the situation as a whole. On 16 July 1870, the French parliament voted to declare war on Prussia and hostilities began three days later when French forces invaded German territory. The German coalition mobilised its troops much more quickly than the French and rapidly invaded northeastern France. The German forces were superior in numbers, had better training and leadership and made more effective use of modern technology, particularly railroads and artillery.
A series of swift Prussian and German victories in eastern France, culminating in the Siege of Metz and the Battle of Sedan, saw French Emperor Napoleon III captured and the army of the Second Empire decisively defeated. A Government of National Defence declared the Third French Republic in Paris on 4 September and continued the war for another five months; the German forces fought and defeated new French armies in northern France. Following the Siege of Paris, the capital fell on 28 January 1871, and then a revolutionary uprising called the Paris Commune seized power in the city and held it for two months, until it was bloodily suppressed by the regular French army at the end of May 1871.
The German states proclaimed their union as the German Empire under the Prussian king Wilhelm I, finally uniting Germany as a nation-state. The Treaty of Frankfurt of 10 May 1871 gave Germany most of Alsace and some parts of Lorraine, which became the Imperial territory of Alsace-Lorraine (Reichsland Elsaß-Lothringen). The German conquest of France and the unification of Germany upset the European balance of power that had existed since the Congress of Vienna in 1815, and Otto von Bismarck maintained great authority in international affairs for two decades. French determination to regain Alsace-Lorraine and fear of another Franco-German war, along with British apprehension about the balance of power, became factors in the causes of World War I.French Armenian Legion
The Armenian Legion (French: Légion arménienne) was a foreign legion unit within the French Army active during and just after World War I which fought against the Ottoman Empire. The original name of the legion was "La Légion d'Orient" (The Eastern Legion). It was renamed "La Légion Arménienne" (The Armenian Legion) on February 1, 1919. The soldiers in this legion were referred to informally among Armenians as Gamavor (Volunteer).French Army in World War I
This article is about the French Army in World War I. During World War I, France was one of the Triple Entente powers allied against the Central Powers. Although fighting occurred worldwide, the bulk of the fighting in Europe occurred in Belgium, Luxembourg, France and Alsace-Lorraine along what came to be known as the Western Front, which consisted mainly of trench warfare. Specific operational, tactical, and strategic decisions by the high command on both sides of the conflict led to shifts in organizational capacity, as the French Army tried to respond to day-to-day fighting and long-term strategic and operational agendas. In particular, many problems caused the French high command to re-evaluate standard procedures, revise its command structures, re-equip the army, and to develop different tactical approaches.Grande Armée
The Grande Armée (French pronunciation: [ɡʀɑ̃d aʀme]; French for Great Army) was the army commanded by Napoleon I during the Napoleonic Wars. From 1805 to 1809, the Grande Armée scored a series of historic victories that gave the French Empire an unprecedented grip on power over the European continent. Widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest fighting forces ever assembled, it suffered terrible losses during the French invasion of Russia in 1812 and never recovered its tactical superiority after that campaign.
It was renamed in 1805 from the army that Napoleon had assembled on the French coast of the English Channel for the proposed invasion of Britain. Napoleon later deployed the army east in order to eliminate the threat of Austria and Russia, which were part of the Third Coalition assembled against France. Thereafter, the name was used for the principal French army deployed in the Campaigns of 1805 and 1807, where it got its prestige, and 1809, 1812, and 1813–14. In practice, however, the term Grande Armée is used in English to refer to all of the multinational forces gathered by Napoleon in his campaigns of the early 19th century (see Napoleonic Wars).The first Grande Armée consisted of six corps under the command of Napoleon's marshals and senior generals. When Napoleon discovered that Russian and Austrian armies were preparing to invade France in late 1805, the Grande Armée was quickly ordered across the Rhine into Southern Germany, leading to Napoleon's victories at Ulm, Austerlitz and Jena.
The army grew as Napoleon spread his power across Europe. It reached its largest size of 1,000,000 men at the start of the invasion of Russia in 1812, with 680,000 men participating in the Russian campaign. The contingents were commanded by French generals, except for the Polish corps and an Austrian one. The huge multinational army marched slowly east, and the Russians fell back with its approach. After the capture of Smolensk and victory in the Battle of Borodino, Napoleon and a part of the Grande Armée reached Moscow on 14 September 1812. However, the army was already drastically reduced because of deaths and injuries from battles with the Russians, disease (principally typhus), desertion, and long communication lines. The army spent a month in Moscow but was ultimately forced to march back westward. It started to suffer from cold, starvation and disease, and was constantly harassed by Cossacks and Russian irregulars, so that the Grande Armée was utterly destroyed as a fighting force. Only 120,000 men survived to leave Russia (excluding early deserters). Of these, 50,000 were Austrians, Prussians, and other Germans, 20,000 were Poles, and just 35,000 Frenchmen. As many as 380,000 died in the campaign.Napoleon led a new army to the Battle of the Nations at Leipzig in 1813, in the defence of France in 1814 and in the Waterloo Campaign in 1815, but the Napoleonic French army would never regain the heights of the Grande Armée of June 1812.Philippe Pétain
Henri Philippe Benoni Omer Joseph Pétain (24 April 1856 – 23 July 1951), generally known as Philippe Pétain (French: [fi.lip pe.tɛ̃]), Marshal Pétain (Maréchal Pétain) and The Old Marshal (Le Vieux Maréchal), was a French general officer who attained the position of Marshal of France at the end of World War I, during which he became known as The Lion of Verdun, and in World War II served as the Chief of State of Vichy France from 1940 to 1944. Pétain, who was 84 years old in 1940, ranks as France's oldest head of state.
During World War I Pétain led the French Army to victory at the nine-month-long Battle of Verdun. After the failed Nivelle Offensive and subsequent mutinies he was appointed Commander-in-Chief and succeeded in repairing the army's confidence. Pétain remained in command throughout the war and emerged as a national hero. During the interwar period he was head of the peacetime French Army, commanded joint Franco-Spanish operations during the Rif War and served twice as a government Minister.
With the imminent Fall of France in June 1940 in World War II, Pétain was appointed Prime Minister of France by President Lebrun at Bordeaux, and the Cabinet resolved to make peace with Germany. The entire government subsequently moved briefly to Clermont-Ferrand, then to the spa town of Vichy in central France. His government voted to transform the discredited French Third Republic into the French State, an authoritarian regime that was forced to collaborate with the Nazis after Case Anton, although it never joined the Axis Powers and refused to declare war on the UK after the attack on Mers-el-Kébir.
After the war, Pétain was tried and convicted for treason. He was originally sentenced to death, but due to his age and World War I service his sentence was commuted to life in prison and he died in 1951.Ranks in the French Army
See Ranks in the French Navy for more details about the naval ranks
Rank insignia in the French Army are worn on the sleeve or on shoulder marks of uniforms, and range up to the highest rank of Marshal of France, a state honour denoted with a seven-star insignia that was last conferred posthumously on Marie Pierre Koenig in 1984.Volta-Bani War
The Volta-Bani War was an anti-colonial rebellion which took place in French West Africa (now Burkina Faso and Mali) between 1915 and 1917. It was a war between an indigenous African force drawn from a heterogeneous coalition of local peoples who rose against the French Army. At its height in 1916 the rebels mustered from 15,000–20,000 men and fought on several fronts. After about a year and several setbacks, the French army defeated the insurgents and jailed or executed their leaders but resistance continued until 1917.The war started after the 1915 rainy season, when a group of representatives from around a dozen villages gathered at Bona where they resolved to take up arms against the French occupiers. This took place in the context of World War I and introduction of conscription for the French Army. There was also widespread optimism that the colonial government could be beaten at this moment of weakness. It went through various phases as the colonial army organised two suppression campaigns but initially failed in its purpose, in the face of fierce opposition and superior tactics. The Volta-Bani War is one of the most significant armed oppositions to colonial government anywhere in Africa. It was the main reason for the creation of the colony of Haute Volta (now Burkina Faso) after World War I, by splitting off seven districts from the large colony of Haut-Sénégal and Niger.The name "Volta-Bani War" was coined in the book West African Challenge to Empire: Culture and History in the Volta-Bani War, which is an anthropological analysis and detailed description of these confrontations, on the basis of military archives documents and an elaborate understanding of the region based on ethnographic fieldwork and oral history. The book won the Amaury Talbot Prize of the Royal Anthropological Institute for 2002. A fictional account of the revolt was the subject of one of the important early literary works of West Africa, Nazi Boni's Crépuscule des temps anciens (1962).
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