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The French Mobile Gendarmerie Squadrons - English Version

The French Mobile Gendarmerie Squadrons

- English Version -

Translated with (free version)

(Sorry if there are errors in the meaning, word or verb of the expressions). 

Up date: 12/06/2023

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Photo of a promotion of the GRM in the 20s
After the conflict of the great war of 1914-1918 and facing many tensions in the country, the public authorities put on the agenda, the creation of a special military force of order. In 1921, the "Pelotons Mobiles de la Gendarmerie" (In english: Gendarmerie Mobile Platoons) were created to support the departmental gendarmerie brigades.

Photo of a mounted platoon of the GRM in the 1920s
They were made up of 87 provincial platoons, 52 of which were on horseback and 35 on foot. Each platoon had 40 men in the provinces.  
For PARIS, 24 platoons will be present: 16 on horseback and 8 on foot. The strength of a platoon in Paris is 60 men.

GRM in a street of Paris in the 30s
In 1926, the "GRM" (in french: Gardes Républicaines Mobiles, in english: Mobile Republican Guards) were really created. The doctrine at the time was to "keep the demonstrators at a distance, avoid injuring or killing as much as possible."

On May 11, 2021, the centenary of this institution was celebrated at the Centre National d'Entrainement des Forces de Gendarmerie (CNEFG - In english : National Training Gendarmerie Forces Center) in St Astier, Dordogne.
On this occasion, a National Monument to the dead of the Mobile Gendarmerie and a Room of Remembrance of the Mobile Gendarmerie were inaugurated. 

Here is a video of the Gendarmerie Nationale
to celebrate this centennial
Find the history
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The French National Gendarmerie, through its Escadrons de Gendarmerie Mobile (EGM- In english Mobile Gendarmerie Squadrons) has acquired knowledge and techniques in the maintenance and restoration of order. With its 13,500 men and women, it represents the second largest component of the National Gendarmerie with 13% of the total workforce. (2021 figure)

Mobile gendarmes in Bordeaux facing violent people on 08/12/18
The missions are :
- To secure sites or places during demonstrations, courts or penitentiary center
- Restore order during riots
- Escorting vans of the Bank of France or sensitive materials
- Maintaining a presence during sensitive events
- Reinforce and support departmental brigades on a temporary basis during patrols
- Act within an intervention team (PI) to neutralize an individual or a dangerous group
- Quickly reinforce the search for an armed madman (DIAG)

Mobile Gendarmes in May 1968
The violent demonstrations of May 1968 brought changes in their intervention methods.

Indeed, the French Mobile gendarmerie squadrons, since the creation in 1969 of the CNEFG in St Astier in Dordogne following these reflections, train regularly to stay up to date and improve their interventions. Its motto: "So that the law remains strong". 
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Every three years, the EGMs pass through this center for training and re-training.

This allows them to improve their progressions and new techniques of rescue and combat.

Here are some videos of exercises performed
in the CNEFG of St ASTIER:

In May 2021, there are 109 French Mobile Gendarmerie Squadrons with 5 platoons each, including a platoon horg rang intended for support, three platoons of march and a platoon of intervention ... (including 10 squadrons specially dedicated to the mountainous environment). 
They are grouped in 18 squadron groups (including the Armored Mobile Gendarmerie Group (GBGM), based in Satory) and are spread throughout France, totalling more than 13,500 French mobile gendarmes.

The number of active personnel is distributed as follows:
Paris region: 9 squadrons minimum, Province: 6 squadrons minimum, Overseas: 3 squadrons, Overseas: 19 squadrons minimum. (In 2017, 21 squadrons were assigned overseas, including 7 in French Guiana, and 6 in New Caledonia, of which 2 additional squadrons were added during the self-determination referendum in 2018).

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French Mobile Gendarmes during the Exercise in the stadium of Lyon on 09/10/2018
In 2016, in the anti-terrorist framework, 22 squadrons were equipped with a marching platoon of about 22 gendarmes for the specialized and armed intervention against the terrorist risk, like the French CRS with the "SPI4G - CRS".

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Mobile Gendarmes and members of the BRI in progress during the exercise of 09/10/2018 in LYON
One of these platoons intervened during an exercise that took place in the stadium of LYON, on October 09, 2018, in front of about sixty delegations presenting many intervention units following the feedbacks of the 2015 attacks in FRANCE:

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This being part of a rise in the power of intervention units:
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French Mobile gendarme during a control on a beach in Mayotte
One can see the large number of squadrons sent to the Overseas Territories. The reason is that in many TOM (Overseas territories) and DOM (Overseas Departments) areas, the Mobile Gendarmes help the local units in their daily work facing a more important delinquency than in Metropolitan France. Overseas represents 5% of the French population but records proportionally five times more homicides than in Metropolitan France, twice as many rapes and three times as many crimes of violence.
Demonstration in Guadeloupe in 2009
Similarly, violence against gendarmes in the French overseas territories is very high: they are three times more exposed to physical attacks than in metropolitan France, which have increased by 64% since 2011. In 2016, 288 gendarmes were injured as a result of a physical assault, including 110 with a weapon: 25 by firearm, 26 with a knife and 59 with a vehicle.
(Sources: Gend'Info of May 2017)

Deployment of mobile gendarmes on the island of Mayotte
It should also be noted that the demonstrations and tense situations are also important and require a significant number of forces in presence. These forces would take too long to come by plane from metropolitan France to reinforce local units, in the face of physical and material outbursts.

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Mobile gendarme woman during a training session in St Astier
Since 2015, women are now present among the EGM. For a good installation, they are integrated in groups of about ten per squadron.

Face to face during a demonstration in Paris, on 15/12/18
In June 2021, they are 964 women. Of this number, 602 are non-commissioned officers, 286 are in the CSTAGN, 56 are volunteer deputy gendarmes and 20 are officers (including 4 in charge of a squadron and 16 in charge of a platoon). They represent more than 7% of the total number of French Mobile Gendarmes.
(Source: Gendarmerie Nationale of June 2021)

French Mobile Gendarmes are recognized at demonstrations by their navy blue helmets and the "Yellow Grenade" patch on the front of the helmet, which represents the Mobile Gendarmerie.
When not wearing a helmet, the mobile gendarme wears a cap. To distinguish him from other gendarmerie corps, there is a yellow border with a yellow grenade on the left side of the cap.
The piping is white for the Gendarmerie Départementale and red for the gendarmes of the Garde Républicaine, who wear a kepi instead.

At least 37 squadrons are permanently engaged out of a total of 109 squadrons. The others are in training, on leave or on specific reinforcement missions depending on the situation.
The employment rate of the Mobile Gendarmerie has increased in recent years:
in 2018, 65 EGMs per day i.e 60% of the workforce,
in 2019, 69 EGMs per day, i.e. 63% of the workforce,
in 2020, 75 EGMs per day, i.e. 68% of the workforce.

A squadron travels on average more than 200 days per year for 223 days of employment, with a trip to the French Overseas Territories every 12 to 15 months for periods of up to three months or in OPEX (external operations).

Among the mobile gendarmerie forces, there is the Armored Mobile Gendarmerie Group (GBGM), which is located in Satory, near Paris.

It provides a reserve for the government with its armored vehicles (VBRG, Véhicule Blindé à Roues de la Gendarmerie) when a crisis situation arises where the use of law enforcement forces is no longer sufficient, but where it is not necessary to call in the army.

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Video of 2 VBRG

We can also find VBRG in overseas,
like here in Guadeloupe, in 2009.
However, in view of the age of these vehicles, they will be replaced by 90 "VBP CENTAURE" which will arrive in the EGMs, including about twenty at the GBGM of Satory, from 2022 until 2026, in tranches of 30 vehicles per year.

Apart from these extreme cases, the 7 GBGM squadrons on which they depend, intervene on classic law enforcement missions:
  - English Version -
- Urban violence in France -
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  - English Version -
- Urban violence in different Western countries -
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Drone of the French Mobile Gendarmerie
The mobile gendarmes use drones and helicopters to see the movement of crowds, coordinate actions and film aggressions or thugs.

The helicopters can remain in hovering flight and thus
have a clear view on the demonstration. They were integrated into this system after the 2005 riots.

Similarly, units on foot are increasingly filming demonstrators and their actions. These films are used as evidence in legal proceedings.
It is also used non-lethal weapons other than the LBD 40 that the Mobile Gendarmerie can use to target or repel assailants during demonstrations that degenerate with violent demonstrators, as here with this paintball launcher that can mark a target to be arrested...

Mobile gendarmes during the tracking of a fugitive in the Cevennes in May 2021

The mobile gendarmes can also integrate a device launched in 2021 on the tracking of armed man.

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The Canadians did some investigative work during the 2001 Summit of the Americas on the categories of protesters: Regardless of the country, protesters are not homogeneous. They fall into several categories:

- The demonstrator who asks for permission to march and does not break anything.

- The pacifist who is less convenient,

- The adept of civil disobedience and sitting deliberately obstructing official ceremonies.

But it is on the fringe of these majority groups that
the "dangerous categories":
- First of all, the rioters, for whom the demonstration serves as an alibi; 

- and finally the groups constituted by autonomists and anarchists, better and better equipped and using the method known as "Black Blocs", that is to say individuals hidden behind black masks, black gloves and black clothes and operating in group not to be spotted during violent actions or degradations.
   - English Version -
- The action of masked gangs in demonstrations -
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The evolution of the increasingly dangerous violence during demonstrations and the search for contact with the forces of law and order, pose a real reflection
on the measures to be taken:

Techniques exist in other Western countries,
in the supervision of demonstrations:

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However, these techniques have their limits when faced with determined and violent people, as we have seen in demonstrations in recent years and other movements, where violent groups wanting to with the forces of law and order.

Operation CESAR - Notre Dame des Landes - 2012
They also intervene in the rural environment according to current events,

Opponents of the SIVENS Dam - 2014
or in opposition to construction projects.

Opération CESAR - Notre Dame des Landes - 2012
Indeed, the Mobile Gendarmes intervened during several weeks at the end of 2012, to evacuate opponents to an airport that was to be built near Nantes.

Opération CESAR - Notre Dame des Landes - 2012
In a forest environment, the techniques of maintaining order or dislodging people are very complicated, due to the lack of infrastructure...

Opération CESAR - Notre Dame des Landes - 2012 
No road to take people away, but also the impossibility of using tear gas grenades because of trees and branches, preventing a precise shooting.

Mobile Gendarmes on the Bure site in the Vosges
It is worth noting the decision taken by the government in July 2017 to reinforce the law enforcement around the experimental radioactive waste burial site of Bure, in the Vosges, with the perpetuation on site of a mobile gendarmerie battalion.

Mobile gendarmes near the Bure site in the Vosges
Indeed, the situation on this location is beginning to resemble the ZAD of Notre Dame des Landes, near Nantes, which existed until May 2018, namely violent protesters against a national project. Extremely violent actions of individuals, linked to the anarcho-libertarian movement and the German anti-nuclear hardline movement, have already taken place in Bure and shows the need for a strong and permanent presence of law enforcement.

Demonstration of February 18, 2017 of an attack on the ANDRA compound in Bure
You can get a glimpse of this violence on this video above from 2017.

Riot truck during the demonstration of 15/08/2017 in Bure
A demonstration on this location on August 15, 2017, had required the presence of a riot truck of the CRS, protected by mobile gendarmes.

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Mobile gendarmes protecting a construction machine near Bure on 22/02/18
That's why on February 22, 2018, 500 mobile gendarmes were sent to intervene in a forest very close to the site to evacuate squatters and protect the teams that cleaned the area.

Here is a video filmed by the National Gendarmerie 
showing the beginning of the intervention.

Deployment of Gendarmerie Mobile quads at the Ste Soline demonstration on 25/03/2023

Quads can also be used to intervene in rural areas, where mobility is just as important as it is in the city, as shown here with these quads deployed during a demonstration in the Deux Sèvres region in March 2023.

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They also intervene to manage the influx of migrants who try to reach the UK on Calais and who hide in trucks that take Ferrys,

or by trying to pass through the tunnel linking France to England... They are always present, in support of the CRS already present in CALAIS.

In 2013, they were mobilized in front of the action of the red bonnets which required the withdrawal of gantries. These gantries were to be used to pay an ecotax on trucks that would use the main roads. The government, faced with the duration, the ransacking of the gantries and the violence of the protest, withdrew them.

The agricultural world will also react to the fall in prices and the suicides of their colleagues so that the politicians react, but with less violence...

Mobile gendarmes deployed in front of farmers facing falling milk prices - 25/01/2016
The deployment of forces allows, among other things, to make the demonstrators think about the risks of confrontations, because the doctrine of the Maintenance of order in FRANCE is: to keep the demonstrators at a distance, to avoid injuring as much as possible.

Mobile gendarmes having arrested a looter on the island of St Martin in early September 2017
The mobile gendarmes also intervene in situations of natural disasters, where looting and insecurity can occur immediately after. As for example, in early September 2017, 400 gendarmes were sent to the island of St Martin, which had just been devastated by the hurricane IRMA...
They intervene on the occasion of sports meetings,

Mobile gendarmes on 10/07/2018 during the Semi-Final of the World Football Championship
or moments of joy on major arteries of cities as after the victory of a match,

or even festive moments like New Year's Eve.

They can intervene to evacuate places like here the stands of a stadium.

VBRG in front of a dam on the ZAD of NDDL on 10/04/18
One of the largest operations in recent years, mobilizing more than 25 EGMs, took place during the evacuation of the ZAD of Notre Dame Des Landes, near Nantes, in April 2018.

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Image of a drone of the gendarmerie on 11/04/18
The necessities of this large number of mobile gendarmes are explained by the surface to cover: roads and fields over several square kilometers.

Masked individuals on a road of the ZAD of NDDL using a catapult on 10/04/18
The violence encountered by the Zadists is known for their organization and their means of repelling the actions of the Forces of Order to evict them.

Mobile gendarme with a drone on the ZAD of NDDL in April 2018
That's why the preparation upstream by analysis with the help of drones,
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Mobile gendarmes, one of which is equipped with a camera on the ZAD of NDDL on 10/04/18
and an organization of forces deployed on the zone allowed to evict the first week more than twenty squats.

A cordon of CRS and Mobile Gendarmes to separate 2 groups of opposed demonstrators.
The EGMs also support the Compagnies de Sécurisation et d'Intervention (CSI) of the French National Police, as well as the Compagnie Républicaine de Sécurité (CRS) depending on the situation.

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- Security and Intervention Company (CSI) -
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The French Minister of the Interior, Gérard COLLOMB, in St Astier, on 08/06/18
The then Minister of the Interior, Gérard COLLOMB, outlined, on June 08, 2018, at the Gendarmerie's St Astier Training Center, a law enforcement doctrine to be adopted during upcoming interventions:
Developed on the basis of RETEX (Return of Experiences) of four major operations carried out in 2018 (Bure, Notre Dame des Landes, Management of movements in universities in May 2018 and the demonstration of May 1, 2018), the law enforcement doctrine has evolved around a major axis:
The judicialization of troublemakers

Video of this visite on 08/06/2018

Three principles are taken into account:
1- Better prepare and anticipate public order maneuvers

2- Guarantee the full and complete application of the law

3- Better explain and communicate
on the meaning of the action undertaken.

CSI and CRS facing Yellow Vests demonstrators e 24/11/18 on the Champs Elysées in Paris
However, the riots that occurred on the sidelines of the so-called "Yellow Vests" demonstrations on 24/11/18 and 01/12/18 on the Champs Elysées, or elsewhere in France, have imposed a new reflection on this type of extremely violent demonstrations:

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VBRG clearing a small barricade in Paris on 08/12/18
This followed changes in the modus operandi during the protests in France on Saturday, December 08, 2018, spreading over the entire territory more than 89,000 gendarmes and police. For information, 100 Gendarmerie Squadrons out of 109 and 55 Companies of CRS out of 60 were mobilized

Mobile gendarmes in Bordeaux facing violent people on 08/12/18
A better adaptation of the manpower and dynamic movements were carried out to prevent the rioters from positioning themselves in defensive situation.

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Mobile Gendarmes during the Act 18 of the Yellow Vests on 16/03/19 in Paris
Faced with the permanent violence in many demonstrations, the EGMs are always on the front lines, facing rioters as violent as ever.


Republican Guard motorcyclists during a reinforcement for the BRAV-M on 04/20/19
Since April 20, 2019, "BRAV-M" have been put in place. These are motorcycle pairs that allow for the rapid projection of Forces of order in violent locations. Mobile gendarmes can be deployed in this way. In addition, motorcyclists of the Republican Guard support the "BRAV-M" to increase the number of police projections. :

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  French military crowd control demonstration in September 2009 in Saumur
To know that the French Army trains some of its units in Crowd and Riot Control (CRC).
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- Véhicules des EGM -
Vehicles of a Mobile Gendarmerie Squadron in 1963
The means of movement, over the decades, have been modernized.

The EGM have more than 900 IRISBUS which allow
to have more mobile units,

And to be able to deploy by using them to block streets.

They make it easier for the EGM to hold different fixed points.
New IVECO Daily vans are arriving to renew the ageing fleet of the French Mobile Gendarmerie.

The old VCT (Command and Communication Vehicles) are also being replaced by this model. There are currently more than 140 of these vehicles in the EGM.

They are equipped with a space for a crisis cell and numerous information and communication capacities that allow them to communicate with the National Police, the fire department, the Civil Security, the SAMU, the Army operations such as SENTINELLE, the Prison Administration, the Prefectures and the Customs.

Previously, the EGMs travelled in coaches, as here, with this Renault PR10S.

The EGAME (Engin du Génie d'AMEnagement) of the Mobile Gendarmerie, based at the GBGM in Satory, is a machine for breaking down barricades:

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It also allows to push obstacles put on the road.

It is normally more adapted to maneuver in forest or in fields than the VBRG.

The cabin is protected. This vehicle can pass fords with 1 meter of water and has a very short turning radius of less than 4 meters.
The French National Gendarmerie had in the 80's, several hundreds of TRM 2000 "Transport de troupe"(Troop transport) in khaki green delivery. Several of them have been transformed into vehicles for law enforcement and are still in use.

Violent strike in April 2016 on the island of Mayotte
They can be seen here on Mayotte, during riots in April 2016

Violent strike in April 2016 on the Island of Mayotte
with a VBRG in support to clear blockades

Violent strike in April 2016 on the Island of Mayotte
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TRM 2000 deployed near Nantes on 05/02/2018 during an operation
During the NNDL operation in 2018 of road rehabilitation near Nantes, a dozen TRM 2000 had been deployed to transport mobile gendarmes who ensured the protection of departmental services that cleaned the area.

For example, the TRM 2000 DRAP.
  DRAP meaning "Device of Autonomous Retention of the Public".
 About ten have been configured on this principle in France.

On a Breton road in front of the Bonnets Rouges movement in 2013
Subsequently, a dozen others were created to be sent overseas. Their creator is Major RENOU of the Gendarmerie Nationale's Technical Center, who created the first example in 2008.

These vehicles depend on the Armored Group of the Mobile Gendarmerie (GBGM) of Versailles Satory. They are regularly used in front of demonstrations that can degenerate as during the G20 or as above in Nantes against an airport project in February 2014.

  Here is a scale model representing the Renault TRM 2000 LAMA. This vehicle, designed in 2014 has only one copy, and is also located at the GBGM of Versailles Satory, is an experimental truck for the restoration of order.

Thanks to its blade, it can push back flaming tires or small barricades set up by demonstrators.

Loaded with a water tank, it is topped with a water cannon that can turn 360°.

Violence made by Russian and English hooligans during the Euro 2016
on 11/06/2016 in Marseille
 However the French Security Republic Companies (CRS) have a larger number of recent vehicles with water cannon:
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