2nd REP GCP Teams

Okay, I guess it is now time to post again some information already disclosed in the 'old' board. Here I go, with a 'revamped' version of a paper about the 2nd REP GCP teams.

The elite of the elite, these twenty-five officers and noncoms are divided into two teams of ten men each plus a command group. The first free-fall special jumpers were formed in 1970, but the organization of the regular commando units began in 1980. All parachute regiments in the 11th Parachute Division now have one or two GCP teams. All are trained to work in support of the regiment and its companies, either with other GCP teams in a divisional framework, or alone on special operations. Although the Direction Generale de la Securite Exterieure (DGSE), France’s CIA, can call on the GCP teams of the 11th Parachute Division for assistance in specific classified operations, most such confidential work is handled by the specially trained paras of the CPIS (Centre Parachutiste d’Instruction Specialise), direct descendant of the 11th CHOC.

Legion paras are recruited as volunteers for the commando teams after they have completed two or three years’ service and hold the rank of corporal. They then undergo intense commando training in the Pyrenees. Once they have passed the required medical and mental tests, the Legionnaires are sent to the parachute center at Pau to become qualified as “chuteurs operationnelsâ€￾ or operational jumpers (French acronym for the HALO/HAHO specialists).

The commandos of the 2nd REP tend to be more mature than the men of the average Legion unit. The two officers and the noncoms of GCP are from twenty-eight to thirty years of age. Currently, the majority of these special soldiers are of Italian, Spanish, or British origin with few Germans or Americans in their ranks. They are all members of a very close-knit team. Their operational interdependence as commandos appears to have erased the barriers of rank without affecting efficiency.

Although the regiment’s Combat Companies are trained for a particular field or warfare, the individual commandos of GCP must each be qualified in certain basic specialties - as a commando instructor, a military mountaineer and skier, a reconnaissance swimmer, a sharpshooter, and so forth. In addition, from the moment a new member arrives, he is integrated into a team and personally specialized in one of the following fields - as a medic, radioman, tactical photographer, demolition or intelligence expert, auto mechanic, or expert in hand-to-hand combat. A document on the GCP teams mentions that “the training followed is intense and rigorousâ€￾.

Most of the GCP team’s missions can be divided into intelligence operations, offensive actions, and specific actions. Intelligence operations include: gathering information on the enemy’s strenght and progress and on enemy deployment in a specific zone; gathering information on a military objective or infrastructure; and gathering information on a situation and an environment.

Offensive actions include: the seizure and temporary control of a key point; preparations for the deployment of a large force (pathfinding); destruction of objectives within enemy lines; neutralization or destruction of infrastructure objectives; participation in controlling a zone; establishing a climate of insecurity in an enemy area; and the extraction of those under threat.

Specific actions include: dearching for, finding, regrouping, and evacuating French and allied citizens; antisniping; military assistance; and providing protection for those in authority.

While the paracommando is no stranger to long-range penetration patrols, antitank-warfare, and directing artillery fire and air support, he must also learn to put together a dossier covering targets or zones of possible future interventions. This means gathering material and absorbing details on the geography, economy, politics, ethnic composition, and traditions of specific operational areas.

The specialists of GCP are constantly on the go. To keep fit for operations, they jump anywhere in Corsica at all hours, conduct amphibious landings, scale snowy peaks, or slide rapidly earthward from hovering choppers. Equipped with special, directional chutes, they can naviguate laterally to a specific objective and land ten men within a ninety-meter square following a HALO drop.

Excerpts from “The Paratroopers of the French Foreign Legionâ€￾ by Howard R. Simpson.
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