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Special Training for a SWAT Team: The French Curriculum

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 48 Issue: 3 Dated: March 2000 Pages: 70-74
Eitan Meyr
Date Published
March 2000
5 pages
The special training curriculum used in France for its national SWAT team is considered one of the world’s best and most comprehensive.
The Groupment d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale (GIGN) has taken part in countless internal-security and counter-terrorist operations since its creation in 1973. GIGN serves as France’s national hostage rescue unit, transports dangerous criminals, provides protection to high-level officials in high-threat situations, deals with prison sieges, and provides security for sensitive installations. Its intensive and rigorous training program has been in place from its beginning. GIGN screens and selects personnel based on specific traits such as motivation and self-discipline. Candidates complete preliminary medical and psychological tests, an interview with the unit commander, and physical tests. GIGN regards physical training as important and focuses on strength, concentration, spontaneity of reflexes, presence of mind, and stamina. GIGN members also receive martial arts training and ski and mountain training. Their firearms training emphasizes precise handgun shooting, expertise with the sniper rifle, and the use of shotguns. Trainees experience varied tactical training scenarios. Other training focuses on rappelling for storming operations, helicopter insertion techniques, and vehicle pursuit. The GIGN has also established close training relationships with special law enforcement units in other countries. Photographs