National Gendarmerie

The National Gendarmerie (French: Gendarmerie nationale [ʒɑ̃daʁməʁi nasjɔnal]) is one of two national police forces of France, along with the National Police. It is a branch of the French Armed Forces placed under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Interior—with additional duties to the Ministry of Defense. Its area of responsibility includes smaller towns, rural and suburban areas, while the Police Nationale—a civilian force—is in charge of cities and downtowns. Due to its military status, the Gendarmerie also fulfills a range of military and defense missions. The Gendarmes also have a cybercrime division. It has a strength of more than 100,000 personnel as of 2014.[1]

The Gendarmerie is heir to the Maréchaussée (Marshalcy—see below), the oldest police force in France, dating back to the Middle Ages. It has influenced the culture and traditions of gendarmerie forces all around the world—and especially in the former French colonial empire.

National Gendarmerie
Gendarmerie nationale
Gendarmerie nationale logo
Logo of the National Gendarmerie.
Country France
TypeGendarmerie (Military provost), Government agency
RoleLaw enforcement
Sizec. 100,000 members (2014)[1]
25,000 reserve
Part ofFrench Armed Forces
Motto(s)Une force humaine
(A humane force)
Other informationsAnnual budget: 7.7 billion
Size area: 674,843 km²
Population: 67 million
Directeur-GénéralGénéral d'Armée Richard Lizurey
Gengarmerie img 1069
Gendarmes on patrol
Garde républicaine cavalry squadron - Paris
Cavalry of the Garde républicaine


Early history of the institution

The Gendarmerie is the direct descendant of the Marshalcy of the ancien regime, more commonly known by its French title, the Maréchaussée.

During the Middle Ages, there were two Grand Officers of the Kingdom of France with police responsibilities: The Marshal of France and the Constable of France. The military policing responsibilities of the Marshal of France were delegated to the Marshal's provost, whose force was known as the Marshalcy because its authority ultimately derived from the Marshal. The marshalcy dates back to the Hundred Years War, and some historians trace it back to the early twelfth century.

Another organisation, the Constabulary (French: Connétablie), was under the command of the Constable of France. The constabulary was regularised as a military body in 1337.

In 1415 the Maréchaussée fought in the Battle of Agincourt and their commander, the "Prévôt des Maréchaux" (Provost of the Marshals), Gallois de Fougières, was killed in battle. His existence was rediscovered in 1934. Gallois de Fougières was then officially recorded as the first known gendarme to have died in the line of duty and his remains are now buried under the monument to the gendarmerie in Versailles.

Under King Francis I (French: François Ier, who reigned 1515–1547), the Maréchaussée was merged with the Constabulary. The resulting force was also known as the Maréchaussée, or, formally, the Constabulary and Marshalcy of France (French: connétablie et maréchaussée de France). Unlike the former constabulary the new Maréchaussée was not a fully militarized force.

In 1720, the Maréchaussée was officially attached to the Household of the King (Maison du Roi), together with the "gendarmerie" of the time, which was not a police force at all, but a royal bodyguard. During the eighteenth century, the marshalcy developed in two distinct areas: increasing numbers of Marshalcy Companies (compagnies de marechaussée), dispersed into small detachments, were stationed around the French countryside providing law and order, while specialist units provided security for royal and strategic sites such as palaces and the mint (e.g. the garde de la prévôté de l'hôtel du roi and the prévôté des monnaies de Paris.)

While its existence ensured the relative safety of French rural districts and roads, the Maréchaussée was regarded in contemporary England, which had no effective police force of any nature, as a symbol of foreign tyranny. English visitors to France saw their armed and uniformed patrols as royal soldiers with an oppressive role. In 1789, on the eve of the French Revolution, the Maréchaussée numbered 3,660 men divided into small brigades (a "brigade" in this context being a squad of ten to twenty men). Their limited numbers and scattered deployment rendered the Maréchaussée ineffective in controlling the "Great Fear" of July-August 1789.[2][3]

The Revolution

During the revolutionary period, the Maréchaussée commanders generally placed themselves under the local constitutional authorities. Despite their connection with the king, they were therefore perceived as a force favouring the reforms of the French National Assembly.

As a result, the Maréchaussée Royale was not disbanded but simply renamed as the gendarmerie nationale (Law of 16 February 1791). Its personnel remained unchanged, and the functions of the force remained much as before. However, from this point, the gendarmerie, unlike the Maréchaussée became a fully military force. During the revolutionary period, the main force responsible for policing was the National Guard. Although the Maréchaussée had been the main police force of the ancien regime, the gendarmerie was initially a full-time auxiliary to the National Guard militia.

In 1791 the newly named gendarmerie nationale was grouped into 28 divisions, each commanded by a colonel responsible for three départements. In turn, two companies of gendarmes under the command of captains were based in each department. This territorial basis of organisation continued throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

Nineteenth century

Under Napoléon, the numbers and responsibilities of the gendarmerie, renamed gendarmerie impériale, were significantly expanded. In contrast to the mounted Maréchaussée, the gendarmerie comprised both horse and foot personnel; in 1800 these numbered approximately 10,500 of the former and 4,500, respectively.

In 1804 the first Inspector General of Gendarmerie was appointed and a general staff established—based in the rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré in Paris. Subsequently, special gendarmerie units were created within the Imperial Guard, and for combat duties in French occupied Spain.

Following the Second Restoration of 1815, the gendarmerie was reduced in numbers to about 18,000 and reorganised into departmental legions. Under King Louis Phillippe a "gendarmerie of Africa" was created for service in Algeria and during the Second Empire the Imperial Guard Gendarmerie Regiment was re-established. The majority of gendarmes continued in what was now the established role of the corps—serving in small sedentary detachments as armed rural police. Under the Third Republic the ratio of foot to mounted gendarmes was increased and the numbers directly incorporated in the French Army with a military police role reduced.[4]

In 1901, the École des officiers de la gendarmerie nationale was established to train its officers.

Battle honours

Five battles are registered on the flag of the Gendarmerie:

  • Battle of Hondschoote (1793): Four hundred gendarmes of the 32nd Division (equivalent of a regiment under the Revolution) engaged in battle on the left wing of the army. They seized enemy artillery positions and lost 117 men.
  • Villodrigo (1812): The 1st legion of Gendarmerie on horseback, belonging to the Brigade of Cavalry of the Army of the North, clashed with the British cavalry on 23 October 1812. Charging with sabres, they penetrated enemy lines, killing 250 and taking 85 prisoners. Colonel Béteille, commanding the brigade, received twelve sabre cuts, but he survived.
  • Taguin (1843): Thirty gendarmes on horseback were mobilised to take part in tracking the tribe of the emir Abd-El-Kader and participated in his capture. In a painting by Horace Vernet, which immortalises the scene (and hangs in the Musée de Versailles), the gendarmes appear alongside the Algerian Governor-General, Henri d'Orléans, duc d'Aumale.
  • Sevastopol (1855): Two infantry battalions of the Regiment of Gendarmerie of the Imperial Guard participated in taking the city. The 1st battalion seized a strategic position that contributed towards the final victory. A total of 153 Gendarmes fell.
  • Indo-China (1945/1954): Three legions of infantrymen from the Republican Guard were formed at the end of 1946. Charged with the formation of the Cochin China Civil Guard, they assumed security roles and patrolled the borders, suffering heavy losses: 654 killed or missing, and 1,500 wounded.

The gendarmerie is still sometimes referred to as the maréchaussée (the old name for the service). The gendarmes are also occasionally called pandores, which is a slang term derived from an 18th-century Hungarian word for frontier guards. The symbol of the gendarmerie is a stylized grenade, which is also worn by the Italian Carabinieri and the Grenadier Guards in Britain. The budget in 2008 was approximately 7.7 billion euros.[5]


French Republican Guard Bastille Day 2007 n2
The French Republican Guard is part of the National Gendarmerie and provides security as guards of honour during official ceremonies.

In French, the term "police" not only refers to the forces, but also to the general concept of "maintenance of law and order" (policing). The Gendarmerie's missions belong to three categories:

  • Administrative police (police administrative), upholding public order, safety checks and traffic controls, assistance to people in imminent danger, protection duties, etc.
  • Judicial police (police judiciaire), handling penal law enforcement and investigation of crimes and felonies
  • Military and defense missions, including military police for the armed forces

These missions include:

  • The policing of the countryside, rivers, coastal areas, and small towns with populations under 20,000, that are outside of the jurisdiction of the French National Police. The Gendarmerie's area of responsibility represents approx. 95% of the French territory and 50% of the population of France
  • Criminal investigations under judiciary supervision
  • Maintaining law and order in public gatherings and demonstrations, including crowd control and other security activities;
  • Police at sea
  • Security of airports, civil nuclear sites and military installations
  • Provision of military police services to the French military—on the French territory as well as during foreign operations (OPEX)
  • For the Republican Guard (Garde républicaine—which is part of the Gendarmerie), participation in the state's protocol and ceremonies


Basic principles

The Gendarmerie, while remaining part of the French armed forces, has been attached to the Ministry of the Interior since 2009. Criminal investigations are run under the supervision of prosecutors or investigating magistrates. Gendarmerie members generally operate in uniform, and, only occasionally, in plainclothes.


The Director-general of the Gendarmerie (DGGN) is appointed by the Council of Ministers, with the rank of Général d'Armée. The current Director-General is Général Richard Lizurey who took office on September 1, 2016.

The Director-General organizes the operation of the Gendarmerie at two levels:

  • at the operational level. The DGGN is in charge of plans, operations, procurement, training and support of the forces in the field.
  • in an advisory position for government in all matters pertaining to the Gendarmerie.


The Gendarmerie headquarters, called the Directorate-General of the National Gendarmerie (Fr: Direction générale de la Gendarmerie nationale (DGGN)[6]), long located in downtown Paris, had been relocated since 2012 to Issy-les-Moulineaux, a southern Paris suburb.

The Directorate-General of the national gendarmerie includes:

  • The general staff, divided into offices and services,
  • The inspector-general of the Gendarmerie (I.G.G.N.)
  • Three main directorates
    • Human Resource directorate (D.P.M.G.N.)
    • Finance and Support directorate (D.S.F.)
    • Operations directorate (D.O.E.)—The general, chief of the Operations directorate, has authority on:
      • Organisation and evaluation subdirectorate,
      • International co-operation subdirectorate,
      • Defence and public order subdirectorate,
      • Public safety and road traffic safety subdirectorate,
      • Criminal Investigation subdirectorate.
  • Two joint Gendarmerie/Police offices
    • Joint Information systems office (ST(SI)2)
    • Joint purchasing office (SAELSI)


The main components of the organization are the following:

  • The Departmental Gendarmerie — organized in 13 Regions of the Departmental Gendarmerie (one for each of the 13 metropolitan Regions of France), each reporting directly to the Director General (DGGN)
  • The Mobile Gendarmerie — organized in 7 Regions of the Mobile Gendarmerie (one for each of the 7 military regions of metropolitan France, called Zones of Defense and Security)
  • The Republican Guard — organized as a separate military corps in one cavalry and two infantry regiments (all three battalion-sized) and specialized units for training and logistical support. It provides protection and ceremonial guard for the President of The Republic, the Prime Minister, their official residencies and both chambers of the French Parliament.
  • The Overseas Gendarmerie — in charge of French overseas departments and territories, bringing together the different gendarmerie branches under unified commands in the respective overseas territories. It is also tasked with providing security to the French embassies and consulates overseas.
  • Five specialized Gendarmerie branches:
    • Air Gendarmerie — military police for the French Air Force and crash scene investigations involving French military aircraft under the dual subordination of the National Gendarmerie and the Air Force.
    • Maritime Gendarmerie — military police for the French Navy and coast guard under the dual subordination of the National Gendarmerie and the Navy.
    • Air Transport — security force for the civil aviation under the dual subordination of the National Gendarmerie and the Ministry of Transportation.
    • Ordnance Gendarmerie — security and counter-intelligence force for the Direction générale de l’armement (DGA), the armament and equipment procurement, development and maintenance agency of the French Ministry of Defence.
    • Nuclear ordnance security — security force for the French nuclear arsenal directly subordinated to the Minister of Defence. (The security of the civil nuclear powerplants and research establishments is provided by specialised units of the Departmental Gendarmerie).
  • The Provost Gendarmerie — military police for overseas deployments. (The functions of military police for the French Army on French soil are fulfilled by units of the Mobile Gendarmerie).
  • Intervention Group of the National Gendarmerie (GIGN): One of the two premier Counter-terror formations of France. Its counterpart within the National Police is the RAID. Operatives from both formations make up the protective detail of the French President (the GSPR).
  • Operational support formations, such as the Gendarmerie air service, the forensic teams, high mountain rescue platoons, canine units, riverine, lake and diver support units etc.
  • The education and training establishment
  • The administration and support establishment

The above-mentioned organizations report directly to the Director General (DGGN) with the exception of the Republican Guard, which reports to the Île-de-France region.

The reserve force numbers 25,000 (not included in the 100,000 total). It is managed by the Departmental Gendarmerie at the regional level.

Departmental Gendarmerie

Gendarmes 501585 fh000019
Four Departmental Gendarmes.

The Departmental Gendarmerie, or Gendarmerie Départementale, also named «La Blanche»[7] (The White), is the most numerous part of the Gendarmerie, in charge of police in small towns and rural areas. Its territorial divisions are based on the administrative divisions of France, particularly the departments from which the Departmental Gendarmerie derives its name. The Departmental Gendarmerie carries out the general public order duties in municipalities with a population of up to 20 000 citizens.[8] When that limit is exceeded, the jurisdiction over the municipality is turned over to the National Police.

It is divided into 13 metropolitan regions[9] (including Corsica), themselves divided into groupements (one for each of the 100 département, thus the name), themselves divided into compagnies (one for each of the 342 arrondissements).

It maintains gendarmerie brigades throughout the rural parts of the territory. There are two kind of brigades:

  • Large autonomous territorial brigades (BTAs)
  • Brigade groups composed of smaller brigades supervised by a larger one (COBs).

In addition, it has specialised units:

  • Research units, who conduct criminal investigations when their difficulty exceeds the abilities of the territorial units
  • Surveillance and intervention platoons (PSIGs), who conduct roving patrols and reinforce local units as needed.
  • Specialized brigades for prevention of juvenile delinquency
  • Highway patrol units.
  • Mountain units, specialised in surveillance and search and rescue operations, as well as inquiries in mountainous areas

In addition, the Gendarmerie runs a national criminal police institute (Institut de recherche criminelle de la gendarmerie nationale) specializing in supporting local units for difficult investigations.

The research units may be called into action by the judiciary even within cities (i.e. in the National Police's area of responsibility). As an example, the Paris research section of the Gendarmerie was in charge of the investigations into the vote-rigging allegations in the 5th district of Paris (see corruption scandals in the Paris region).

Gendarmes normally operate in uniform. They may operate in plainclothes only for specific missions and with their supervisors' authorisation.

Mobile Gendarmerie

Strasbourg 6 février 2013 manifestation sidérurgistes ArcelorMittal 16
Mobile gendarmes during a demonstration

The Mobile Gendarmerie, or Gendarmerie Mobile, also named « La Jaune » (The Yellow), is currently divided into 7 Defense zones (Zones de Défense). It comprises 18 Groupings (Groupements de Gendarmerie mobile) featuring 109 squadrons[10] for a total of approx. 12,000 men and women.[1]

Its main responsibilities are:

  • crowd and riot control
  • general security in support of the Departmental Gendarmerie
  • military and defense missions
  • missions that require large amounts of personnel (Vigipirate counter-terrorism patrols, searches in the countryside...)

Nearly 20% of the Mobile Gendarmerie squadrons are permanently deployed on a rotational basis in the French overseas territories. Other units deploy occasionally abroad alongside French troops engaged in military operations (called external operations or OPEX).

GBGM5F Domenjod 160316
GBGM riot control training

The civilian tasks of the gendarmes mobiles are similar to those of the police units known as Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité (CRS), for which they are often mistaken. Easy ways to distinguish them include:

  • the uniform of the CRS is dark blue, the gendarmes mobiles are clad in black jackets and dark blue trousers;
  • the CRS wear a big red CRS patch; the gendarmes have stylised grenades.
  • the helmet of the gendarmes mobiles is blue. The CRS helmet is black with two yellow stripes

The Mobile Gendarmerie includes GBGM (Groupement Blindé de la Gendarmerie Nationale), an Armoured grouping composed of seven squadrons equipped with VXB armoured personnel carriers, better known in the Gendarmerie as VBRG (Véhicule Blindé à Roues de la Gendarmerie, "Gendarmerie armoured wheeled vehicle"). It is based at Versailles-Satory. The unit also specializes in CBRN defense.

National Gendarmerie Intervention Group

GIGN4 Domenjod 160316
GIGN operators

GIGN (Groupe d'intervention de la Gendarmerie nationale) is an elite law enforcement and special operations unit numbering about 400 personnel. Its missions include counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, surveillance of national threats, protection of government officials and targeting of organized crime.[11]

GIGN was established in 1974 following the Munich massacre. Created initially as a relatively small police tactical unit specialized in sensitive hostage situations, it has since grown into a larger and more diversified force of nearly 400 members,[12]

Many of its missions are classified, and members are not allowed to be publicly photographed. Since its formation, GIGN has been involved in over 1,800 missions and rescued more than 600 hostages, making it one of the most experienced counter-terrorism units in the world.[13] The unit came into prominence following its successful assault on a hijacked Air France flight at Marseille Marignane airport in December 1994.

Republican Guard

Republican Guard Élysée Palace 2
Republican Guard—Élysée Palace, Paris

The Republican Guard is a ceremonial unit based in Paris. Their missions include:[14]

Overseas Gendarmerie

The non-metropolitan branches include units serving in the French overseas départements and territories (such as the Gendarmerie of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon), staff at the disposal of independent States for technical co-operation, Germany, security guards in French embassies and consulates abroad.

Maritime Gendarmerie

Placed under the dual supervision of the Gendarmerie and the Navy, its missions include:[14]

  • police and security in the naval bases;
  • maritime surveillance;
  • police at sea;
  • assistance and rescue at sea.

Air Transport Gendarmerie

The Air Transport Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie des Transports Aériens) is placed under the dual supervision of the Gendarmerie and the direction of civilian aviation of the transportation ministry, its missions include:[14]

  • police and security in civilian airfields and airports;
  • filtering access to aircraft, counter-terrorism and counter-narcotic activities, freight surveillance;
  • surveillance of technical installations of the airports (control tower...);
  • traffic control on the roads within the airports;
  • protection of important visitors;
  • judiciary inquiries pertaining to accidents of civilian aircraft.

Air Gendarmerie

The Air Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie de l'Air) is placed under the dual supervision of the Gendarmerie and the Air Force, it fulfills police and security missions in the air bases, and goes on the site of an accident involving military aircraft.[14]

Ordnance Gendarmerie

The Ordnance Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie de l'Armement) fulfills police and security missions in the establishments of the Délégation Générale pour l'Armement (France's defence procurement agency).[14]

Nuclear ordnance security Gendarmerie

As the name implies, this branch is in charge of all security missions pertaining to France's nuclear forces.

Provost Gendarmerie

The Provost Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie prévôtale), created in 2013, is the military police of the French Army deployed outside metropolitan France.

Foreign service

Gendarmerie units have served in:


The uniform of the Gendarmerie has undergone many changes since the establishment of the corps. Throughout most of the 19th century a wide bicorne was worn with a dark blue coat or tunic. Trousers were light blue. White aiguillettes were a distinguishing feature. In 1905 the bicorne was replaced by a dark blue kepi with white braiding, which had increasingly been worn as a service headdress. A silver crested helmet with plume, modelled on that of the French cuirassiers was adopted as a parade headdress until 1914. Following World War I a relatively simple uniform was adopted for the Gendarmerie, although traditional features such as the multiple-cord aiguillette and the dark blue/light blue colour combination were retained.

Since 2006 a more casual "relaxed uniform" has been authorised for ordinary duties (see photograph below). The kepi however continues in use for dress occasions. Special items of clothing and equipment are issued for the various functions required of the Gendarmerie. The cavalry and infantry of the Republican Guard retain historic ceremonial uniforms dating from the 19th century.

Renault Mégane IV Gendarmerie, tribunal de Strasbourg 2018 (1)

Renault Mégane with the new gendarmerie colors

Peugeot Traveller, gendarmerie nationale, Avia Eckartswiller

Peugeot Traveller used by the Gendarmerie in 2019

Gendarmerie BMW R1100RT

Gendarmerie's motorcycles

Air Transport Gendarmerie Bastille Day 2013 Paris t110557

Air Transport Gendarmerie Bastille Day 2013 Paris

Manifestation taxis Parlement européen Strasbourg 24 octobre 2013 40

gendarmerie Mobile

Gendarmes mobiles FAMAS

Some gendarmes mobiles equipped with shields, FAMAS and gas mask

Gendarmes mobiles p1200789

Riot control gear: body armour, shield, tear gas mask, apparatus for throwing tear gas canisters.


Officiers Généraux (General Officers)

Grade (Rank) Insignia Rank
Général d'Armée
(Army General)
Général armée gend
Général de Corps d'Armée
(Corps General)
Général corps d'armée gend
Général de Division
(Divisional General)
Général division gend
Général de Brigade
(Brigade General)
Général brigade gendOF6 GBR Rank French AirGendarmerieOF6-GBR Rank French Maritime Gendarmerie

Officiers supérieurs (Senior Officers)

Insignia Rank
Insignia Rank
Insignia Rank
Garde républicaine
Insignia Rank
Insignia Rank
Insignia Rank
technique et administratif
Col gd
Col gm
Col gr
OF5-COL Rank French Air Gendarmerie
OF5-COL Rank French Maritime Gendarmerie
Col cta
(Lieutenant Colonel)
Lcl gd
Lcl gm
Lcl gr
OF4-LCL Rank French Air Gendarmerie
OF4-LCL Rank French Maritime Gendarmerie
Lcl cta
Chef d'Escadron
(Squadron Leader)
Cen gd
Cen gm
Cen gr
OF3-CEN Rank French Air Gendarmerie
OF3-CEN Rank French Maritime Gendarmerie
Cdt cta

Officers Subalternes (Junior Officers)

Insignia Rank
Insignia Rank
Insignia Rank
Garde républicaine
Insignia Rank
Insignia Rank
Insignia Rank
technique et administratif
Cne gd
Cne gm
Cne gr
OF2-CNE Rank French Air Gendarmerie
OF2-CNE Rank French Maritime Gendarmerie
Cne cta
Ltn gd
Ltn gm
Ltn gr
OF1-LTN Rank French Air Gendarmerie
OF1-LTN Rank French Maritime Gendarmerie
Ltn cta
(Second Lieutenant)
Slt gd
Slt gm
Slt gr
Can't be affected
Slt cta
Aspirant gend
Can't be affected No equivalent
Élève Officier
(Officer Cadet)
Élève officier eogn
Élève OCTA eogn

Sous-officers (Sub-Officers)

Insignia Rank
Insignia Rank
Insignia Rank
Garde républicaine
Insignia Rank
Insignia Rank
Insignia Rank
technique et administratif
Major gd
Major gm
Major gr
OR9-MAJ Rank French Air Gendarmerie
OR9-MAJ Rank French Maritime Gendarmerie
Major cstag
(Chief Adjutant)
(Warrant Officer Class One)
Adc gd
Adc gm
Adc gr
OR9-ADC Rank French Air Gendarmerie
OR9-ADC Rank French Maritime Gendarmerie
Adc cstag
(Warrant Officer Class Two)
Adj gd
Adj gm
Adj gr
OR8-ADJ Rank French Air Gendarmerie
OR8-ADJ Rank French Maritime Gendarmerie
Adj cstag
Maréchal des Logis-Chef
(Chief Marshal of Lodgings)
(Staff Sergeant)
Mdc gd
Mdc gm
Mdc gr
OR6-MDC Rank French Air Gendarmerie
OR6-MDC Rank French Maritime Gendarmerie
Mdc cstag
Gend gd
Gend gm
Gend gr
OR5-GND SOC Rank French Air Gendarmerie
OR5-GND SOC Rank French Maritime Gendarmerie
Mdl carriere cstag
Gendarme sous contrat
(Junior Gendarme)
Gend sc gd
Gend sc gm
Gend sc gr
Can't be affected
Mdl sc cstag
Élève Sous-officer féminin
(Female Sub-Officer Cadet)
Élève esog femme
Élève esog cstagn
Élève Sous-officer masculin
(Male Sub-Officer Cadet)
Élève esog

Militaire du Rang (Serviceman of the Rank)

Insignia Rank
Insignia Rank
Insignia Rank
Garde républicaine
Insignia Rank
Insignia Rank
Gendarme Adjoint Maréchal-des-logis
(Deputy Gendarme Marshal of Lodgings)
Gav mdl
OR5-MDL Rank French Air Gendarmerie
OR5-MDL Rank French Maritime Gendarmerie
Gendarme Adjoint Brigadier Chef
(Deputy Gendarme Chief-Brigadier)
Gav bch
OR4-BRC Rank French Air Gendarmerie
OR4-BRC Rank French Maritime Gendarmerie
Gendarme Adjoint Brigadier
(Deputy Gendarme Brigadier)
(Lance Corporal)
Gav bri
OR3-BRI Rank French Air Gendarmerie
OR3-BRI Rank French Maritime Gendarmerie
Gendarme Adjoint 1ère Classe
(Deputy Gendarme First Class)
Gav 1cl
OR2-GA1 Rank French Air Gendarmerie
OR2-GA1 Rank French Maritime Gendarmerie
Gendarme Adjoint
(Deputy Gendarme)
Gav gav
OR1-GAV Rank French Air Gendarmerie
OR1-GAV Rank French Maritime Gendarmerie


The National Gendarmerie consisted of approx. 103,481 personnel units in 2006. Career gendarmes are either commissioned or non-commissioned officers. The lower ranks consist of auxiliary gendarmes on limited-time/term contracts. The 103,481 military personnel of the National Gendarmerie is divided into:[15]

  • 5,789 officers and 78,354 NCOs of gendarmerie;
  • 237 officers and 3,824 NCOs of the technical and administrative body;
  • 15,277 section volunteers, from voluntary gendarmes (AGIV) and voluntary assistant gendarmes (GAV);
  • 1,908 civilian personnel are divided into civil servants, state workers and contracted workers;
  • 40,000 reserve personnel. This reserve force had not yet reached the authorised size limit. Only 25,000 men and women were signed up for reserve engagements (E.S.R.).[16]

This personnel mans the following units:

Départemental Gendarmerie
  • 1,055 Community brigades;
  • 697 autonomous brigades ;
  • 370 Surveillance and Intervention Platoons (PSIG);
  • 271 Dog-handling Teams;
  • 17 Mountain Platoons;
  • 92 Departmental Brigades for Investigations and Judicial Services;
  • 383 Research sections and brigades;
  • 14 Air Sections;
  • 7 River Brigades;
  • 26 Coastal brigades;
  • 93 departmental squadrons for roadway security;
  • 136 Highway Platoons;
  • 37 brigades for the prevention of juvenile delinquency;
  • 21 Centers for Information and Recruitment.
Gendarmerie Mobile
  • 108 squadrons
  • 6 Special Security Platoons.
Special formations
  • 5 squadrons and 10 companies of Republican Guard;
  • 40 brigades of gendarmerie for air transports and research sections (BGTA);
  • 8 Protection Units;
  • 19 Air sections and detachments;
  • 18 gendarmerie armament units.
Other units
  • 3 673 personnel overseas posts;
  • 74 brigades and postes of the maritime gendarmerie;
  • 54 brigades of Air Gendarmerie;
  • 23 schools and Instruction Centers.[16]

Prospective Centre

The Gendarmerie nationale's Prospective Centre (CPGN), which was created in 1998 by an ordinance of the Minister for Defence, is one of the gendarmerie's answers to officials' willingness to the modernise the State. Under the direct authority of the general director of the gendarmerie, it is located in Penthièvre barracks on avenue Delcassé in Paris and managed by Mr Frédéric LENICA, (assisted by a general secretary, Colonel LAPPRAND) "maître des requêtes" in the Conseil d'Etat.[17]



The gendarmerie uses many different french cars, like Renault Megane and Renault Trafic


The Gendarmerie has used helicopters since 1954. They are part of the Gendarmerie air forces (French: Forces aériennes de la Gendarmerie or FAG—not to be confused with the Air Gendarmerie or the Air Transport Gendarmerie). FAG units are attached to each of the seven domestic "zonal" regions and six overseas COMGEND (Gendarmerie commands). They also operate for the benefit of the National Police which owns no helicopters (the Police also has access to Civil Security helicopters).

Forces aériennes de la Gendarmerie (FAG) operate a fleet of 55 machines belonging to three types and specialized in two basic missions: surveillance/intervention and rescue/intervention.

Helicopter rescue sancy takeoff

AS350 Écureuil.

Eurocopter EC-135 T2+


Eurocopter EC 145, France - Gendarmerie JP6591482


See also



  1. ^ a b c MEMOGENDV6 information brochure edited by SIRPA-G, the Gendarmerie information bureau. The 100,000 figure includes approx 3,600 civilians.
  2. ^ Brown, Howard G. Ending the French Revolution. pp. 189–190. ISBN 978-0-8139-2729-9.
  3. ^ Schama, Simon. Citizens. A Chronicle of the French Revolution. p. 430. ISBN 0-670-81012-6.
  4. ^ Edouard Detaille, pages 281-293, "L'Armee Francaise", ISBN 0-9632558-0-0
  5. ^ "2008 Budget Bill, French Senate". 2010-12-21. Archived from the original on 2017-06-06. Retrieved 2017-09-07.
  6. ^ fr:Direction générale de la Gendarmerie nationale
  7. ^ After the colour of the silver stripes that the gendarmes wear on their kepis, as opposed to the golden stripes of the Mobile Gendarmerie.
  8. ^ "Comment sont définies les zones police et gendarmerie - Le Parisien". Archived from the original on 2017-09-08. Retrieved 2017-09-07.
  9. ^ Since 2016, metropolitan France has been divided into 12 administrative regions.
  10. ^ Squadron in the British sense of the term. The equivalent US unit would be a troop or a company.
  11. ^ Peachy, Paul. "Who are GIGN? Elite police force formed after 1972 Olympics attack on Israelis". The Independent. The Independent. Archived from the original on 31 May 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  12. ^ circa 570 with the regional branches.
  13. ^ Gend'Info (the Gendarmerie's information magazine) December 2014 issue
  14. ^ a b c d e "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-10-08. Retrieved 2009-05-23.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-04-30. Retrieved 2009-05-23.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-06-26. Retrieved 2008-12-25.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-12-12. Retrieved 2008-12-25.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  • Gilbert MAUREL "la guerre d'un gendarme en Algérie" ed L'Harmattan. ISBN 978-2-336-00943-8.

External links

Argentine National Gendarmerie

The Argentine National Gendarmerie (Spanish: Gendarmería Nacional Argentina, GNA) is the gendarmerie and corps of border guards of Argentina.

The Argentine National Gendarmerie has a strength of 70,000.

The Gendarmerie is primarily a frontier guard force but also fulfils other important roles. The force functions from what are today five regional headquarters at Campo de Mayo, Córdoba, Rosario, San Miguel de Tucumán and Bahía Blanca.

Armed Forces of Gabon

The Armed Forces of Gabon (French: Forces armées gabonaises) is the national professional military of the Republic of Gabon, divided into the Army, Air Force, Navy, and a National Gendarmerie, consisting of about 5,000 personnel. Gabonese forces are oriented to the defense of the country and have not been trained for an offensive role. The armed forces includes a well-trained, well-equipped 1,800-member guard that provides security for the President of Gabon.

Armed Forces of Mauritania

The Armed Forces of Mauritania (Arabic: الجيش الوطني الموريتاني‎) is the defence force of Mauritania, having an army, navy, air force, gendarmerie, and presidential guard. Other services include the national guard and national police, though they both are subordinated to the Ministry of the Interior. As of 2010, the Mauritanian armed forces budget was 5.5% of the country's GDP.

The military forces of Mauritania are listed by the IISS Military Balance 2007 as comprising 15,870 personnel with an additional 5,000 paramilitaries, in the national gendarmerie. The Navy (Marine Mauritanienne) has 620 personnel and 10 patrol and coastal combatants, with bases at Nouadhibou and Nouakchott. The CIA reports that the navy includes naval infantry. The small Air Force (Force Aerienne Islamique de Mauritanie, FAIM) has 250 personnel, 2 FTB-337 aircraft, 15 transport aircraft of various types, and 4 SF-260E trainers. The 5,000 paramilitaries are divided in the National Gendarmerie (3,000), and the National Guard (2,000) who both report to the Ministry of the Interior. Other paramilitary services reported by the CIA in 2001 include the National Police, Presidential Guard.

Benin Armed Forces

The Benin Armed Forces (FAB - Forces armées béninoises) constitutes the army, navy, air force, and national gendarmerie of Benin. For a number of years, the Belgian Armed Forces have had an active programme of co-operation with Benin, offering training and coaching, donating redundant military equipment and using the country for limited military exercises.

Campo de Mayo

Campo de Mayo is a military base located in Greater Buenos Aires, Argentina, 30 km (19 mi) northwest of Buenos Aires.

Campo de Mayo covers an area of 8,000 ha (19,768 acres) and is one of the most important military bases in Argentina, including Argentine Army's:

General Lemos Combat Support School

Sergeant Cabral Army NCO School

Campo de Mayo Military Hospital

Metropolitan Military Garrison HQ

Army Infantry School

Army Cavalry School

Army School of Communications

Army Engineering School

Army Artillery School

601 Air Assault Regiment

601 Commando Company

main units of Argentine Army AviationIt is also home for the aviation service of the Argentine National Gendarmerie

European Union Capacity Building Mission in Mali

The EU Capacity Building Mission in Mali (EUCAP Sahel Mali) was initiated on 15 April 2014 within the European Union Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) as a Capacity Building Mission in order to train local security forces in Mali.EUCAP Sahel Mali provides assistance and advice to the national police, the national gendarmerie and the national guard. This is done by improving the operational efficiency, re-establishing the respective hierarchical chains, reinforcing the role of judicial and administrative authorities, and facilitating the redeployment to the north of the country.

There are currently 20 police forces and 63 civilian staff deployed within this mission.Next to EUCAP Sahel Mali, there are currently further peace operations in Mali. These are the EU-training mission EUTM Mali, the UN-peacekeeping mission MINUSMA and African Union Mission MISAHEL.

Federal Police (Mexico)

The Federal Police (Spanish: Policía Federal, PF), formerly known as the Policía Federal Preventiva (Federal Preventive Police), is the Mexican national police force. It is under the authority of the Department of Security and Civil Protection. They are sometimes referred to by the slang term "Federales" or "Mexican feds" by some U.S. agents and media. Typically, agents of the Federal Police are heavily armed and wear dark blue, black, or gray combat fatigues.

The Federal Preventive Police was created by the merger of four other federal organizations in 1998 and 1999 in order to better co-ordinate the fight against the growing threat of drug cartels. The agency merged the Federal Highway Police, the Fiscal Police, an Interior Ministry intelligence unit called the Investigation and National Security Center, and military personnel transferred en masse from the Mexican Army's 3rd Military Police Brigade.

On account of its heavily armed agents, its culture, and its origins, the Federal Police as a whole may be considered a gendarmerie. However, two of the seven "divisions" (i.e. branches of service) of the Federal Police have particularly military characteristics: The Federal Forces Division and the Gendarmerie Division. The Gendarmerie Division was created in 2014, and is legally defined as a military/police force within the Federal Police.

There is an investigation division within the Federal Police. Investigation of federal crimes can also be handled by the Federal Ministerial Police directed by the Attorney General of Mexico.

French Armed Forces

The French Armed Forces (French: Forces armées françaises) encompass the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the National Guard and the Gendarmerie of the French Republic. The President of France heads the armed forces as chef des armées.

France has the fifth largest defence budget in the world and the first in the European Union (EU). It has the largest armed forces in size in the European Union.


GIGN (Groupe d'intervention de la Gendarmerie nationale pronunciation ; English: National Gendarmerie Intervention Group) is the elite police tactical unit of the French National Gendarmerie. Its missions include counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, surveillance of national threats, protection of government officials, and targeting organized crime.GIGN was established in 1974 following the Munich massacre. Created initially as a relatively small tactical unit specialized in sensitive hostage situations, it has since grown into a larger and more diversified force of nearly 400 members, with expanded responsibilities. GIGN shares jurisdiction of French territory with the National Police special-response units.GIGN is headquartered in Versailles-Satory near Paris. Although most of its operations take place in France, the unit, as a component of the French Armed Forces, can operate anywhere in the world. Many of its missions are secret, and members are not allowed to be publicly photographed. Since its formation, GIGN has been involved in over 1,800 missions and rescued more than 600 hostages, making it one of the most experienced counter-terrorism units in the world.The unit came into prominence following its successful assault on a hijacked Air France flight at Marseille Marignane airport in December 1994.


A gendarmerie or gendarmery () is a military component with jurisdiction in civil law enforcement. The term gendarme (English: ) is derived from the medieval French expression gens d'armes, which translates to "armed people". In France and some Francophone nations, the gendarmerie is a branch of the armed forces responsible for internal security in parts of the territory (primarily in rural areas and small towns in the case of France) with additional duties as a military police for the armed forces. This concept was introduced to several other Western European countries during the Napoleonic conquests. In the mid twentieth century, a number of former French mandates or colonial possessions such as Lebanon, Syria, and the Republic of the Congo adopted a gendarmerie after independence.The growth and expansion of gendarmerie units worldwide has been linked to an increasing reluctance by some governments to use military units typically entrusted with external defense for combating internal threats. A somewhat related phenomenon has been the formation of paramilitary units which fall under the authority of civilian police agencies. Since these are not strictly military forces, however, they are not considered gendarmerie.Some of the more prominent modern gendarmerie organizations include the French National Gendarmerie, Spanish Civil Guard, Italian Carabinieri, Portuguese National Republican Guard and the Turkish Gendarmerie.

Inteligencia de la Gendarmería Nacional Argentina

Inteligencia de la Gendarmería Nacional Argentina (Argentine National Gendarmerie Intelligence) is the intelligence service of the Argentine National Gendarmerie, commonly referred as SIGN (Servicio de Inteligencia de la Gendarmería Nacional, National Gendarmerie Intelligence Service) inside of the Intelligence Secretariat.

Law enforcement in Cambodia

Law enforcement in Cambodia is handled by the Cambodian National Police, one of three General Departments within the Ministry of the Interior. The National Police numbers 64,000 and is divided into four autonomous units and five central departments. The National Police share significant functional overlap with the Military Police (officially the National Gendarmerie), which functions within the Ministry of Defense.

Law enforcement in Gabon

Responsibility for enforcing the law in Gabon is in the hands of the National Gendarmerie of Gabon. In 2007, the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs investigated reports that Gabonese police officers occasionally beat confessions out of prisoners, as well as beat, rob, and rape prostitutes. Gabonese police clashed with opposition protesters in Libreville in 2005 and 2011. The police is part of the national military, and places emphasis on the police's internal work, and not offensive actions.

Law enforcement in Niger

Law enforcement in Niger is the responsibility of the Ministry of Defense though the National Gendarmerie and the Ministry of the Interior through the National Police and the National Guard, a paramilitary police force.

List of French paratrooper units

The history of French airborne units began in the Interwar period when the French Armed Forces formed specialized paratroopers units. First formed in the French Air Force, they were rapidly integrated into the French Army, French Navy, National Gendarmerie and from the British Armed Forces. Some were later included in the postwar French Armed Forces.

Major (France)

Major (French: Major) in France, is a senior superior military rank (French: grade militaire) across various military and security institutions with history dating back well beyond the 18th century.

Typically, the contemporary rank of Major is situated differently in the military hierarchy of each country and corresponds in general to the rank of Major, whose French official equivalent is Commandant in the French Army and French Air Force, Chef d'Escadron in the National Gendarmerie and Capitaine de corvette in the French Navy.

The official rank and designation of Major of France (French: Major de France) is unique.

While the rank functions of Major (French: Major) in France, can be similarly compared to that of a Sergeant Major, it is higher (rank of Major) than a Chief Warrant Officer (French: Adjudant-Chef), and similar to a Master Chief (depending on the service branch of the respective country); the rank of Major (French: Major) is still different.

Major was a senior superior Officer rank first, with a history of various military traditions in various corps, then recently in time became attached to the sub-officer (non-commissioned) corps as of 2009.

The rank of Major (French: Major) of the French Armed Forces can be the closest equivalent in terms of authenticity, and even still different, to the American referral of Mustang officers, since the rank of "Major" was already a superior Officer (French: Officier Supérieur) (a superior combat military officer rank ascended through the enlisted corps by service or promotions in combat units until 2009) which was part of the "Corps of Majors", situated between the French Officer Corps and the French Non-Commissioned Officer Corps. However, the history rank of the Majors of France (French: Les Majors de France) is still very different.

In the French Armed Forces, the official rank and referral of Major (French: Major) included the same rank designation across the board, this time however as of 2009, attached to the non-commissioned ranks (sub-officer corps) of the French Army, the ranks of the French Navy, the ranks of the French Air Force and ranks of the National Gendarmerie.

The title is also often associated with another rank, which can be that of the general (French: général) or a senior warrant officer (French: Adjudant).

Maritime Gendarmerie

The Maritime Gendarmerie (French: Gendarmerie Maritime) is a component of the French National Gendarmerie under operational control of the chief of staff of the French Navy. It employs 1,100 personnel and operates around thirty patrol boats and high-speed motorboats distributed on the littoral waterways of France. Like their land-based colleagues the Gendarmes Maritime are military personnel carry out policing operations in addition to their primary role as a coast guard service. They also carry out provost duties within the French Navy.

The uniforms and insignia of the Gendarmerie Maritime are very similar to those of the French Navy, but the ranks used are those of the rest of the Gendarmerie (which are the same as the traditional ranks of the French Cavalry).

Military ranks of Senegal

The Military ranks of Senegal are the military insignia used by the Armed Forces of Senegal. Being a former colony of France, Senegal shares a rank structure similar to that of France.

Niger Armed Forces

The Niger Armed Forces (French: Forces Armées Nigeriennes) (FAN) includes military armed force service branches (Niger Army and Niger Air Force), paramilitary services branches (National Gendarmerie of Niger and National Guard of Niger) and the National Police. The Niger Army, Niger Air Force and the National Gendarmerie of Niger are under the Ministry of Defense whereas the National Guard of Niger and the National Police fall under the command of the Ministry of Interior. With the exception of the National Police, all military and paramilitary forces are trained in military fashion. The President of Niger is the supreme commander of the entire armed forces.

National Gendarmerie
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