The 1st Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment (French: 1er Régiment de Parachutistes d’Infanterie de Marine, 1er RPIMa) is one of three regiments in the French Army Special Forces Brigade (BFST).
The 1er RPIMa is one of Europe’s most experienced Special Operations Forces, and has been constantly operationally deployed right from the beginning of its new role over thirty years ago.
Similarly, from the beginning of its involvement in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, first in 2001 and again from 2003 onwards, the Regiment has won high praises.
The high level of expertise attained by the 1er RPIMa also makes it a highly sought-after partner in the development of Special Forces units abroad and the Regiment constantly receives requests for assistance in that specific field from sister units around the world.
The main strength of the regiment lies in its three RAPAS each specialised in a specific field such as HAHO/HALO, Counter-Terrorism, amphibious, jungle, mountain or motorized patrols operations and its RAPAS Signal company dedicated to the C3 (Command, Control and Communications) support of Special Operations.
Due to its long history with the British Special Air Service much of the 1er RPIMa core aspects are based upon the British SAS. Each company specialises in a particular area such as maritime, air and parachuting operations, mobility.
Four main RAPAS (standing for Airborne Research and Special Action) combat companies:
* 1e Compagnie (Paratroopers HAHO, HALO / Combat divers/ Urban warfare, counter-terrorism and bodyguards)
* 2e Compagnie (Mountain, arctic, desert and jungle warfare)
* 3e Compagnie (Motorized patrols)
* 4e Compagnie (Recon, acquisition, training)
The 1st RPIMa is based in Bayonne, what makes possible amphibious and mountain training. It is also ideal as it is very close to the Centre d’Entrainement Adaptee, Europe’s largest and most modern Close Quarter Battle facility and to the dedicated assets of the French army’s Special Forces Aviation Detachment and airborne school, two establishments that are essential to its training and operations.
The 1er RPIMa is tasked with several jobs. These include: Bodyguarding VIPs in hotzones, Direct Action, Reconnaissance, Sabotage, Unconventional Warfare and Hostage rescue.
The 1er RPIMa relies on a number of skills to successfully carry out its missions. Most skills are either regiment or brigade-specific and need constant honing to be kept at the desired level of proficiency.
Basic training leading to the first rung of the RAPAS ladder is the elementary RAPAS technical certificate which is 6 months long.
RAPAS training covers all the basics of the SF operator’s functions.
Each member of the regiment is static-line parachute qualified using some specific low-altitude dropping techniques. The 1er RPIMa can also field different teams proficient in both HAHO and HALO techniques.
Fast-roping and helicopter rappelling, special purpose infiltration and extraction rigs, LZ marking, special operation procedures, helicopter fire support, helicopter-borne sniper support, light helicopter insertion and extraction
The 1er RPIMa is unique in the way it has integrated air delivery component with teams able to rig and airdrop light to heavy loads and pallets in support of special operations from cargo aircraft of dedicated special operations division of the French air force.
1er RPIMa can field a complete open air circuit team for beach recce or riverine operations using light crafts, including kayaks. 1er RPIMa can also field a complete closed circuit team for covert underwater missions.
True to their SAS ancestors, the 1er RPIMa has always maintained a motorized patrol capability. It currently centres on PATSAS patrols that are tasked with developing and refining the methods and equipment needed for such operations. In addition to the PATSAS, each RAPAS company fields several motorised RAPAS groups.
The Special Recce Patrols: Having understood with time and experience that it is always better to act on intelligence which had been gathered and analyzed by operators that intimately know which method of operation would be best used by the action groups, the 1er RPIMa has decided to include in its specialized teams the PRS concept. The PRS are infiltrated ahead of the action teams and provide real time intelligence on the target area. The information gathered by the PRS is then transmitted by a variety of secure means to the command level which then disseminates it to the action groups.