The Commandement des Opérations Spéciales (COS; Special Operations Command) is the organisation which coordinates the use of the French special forces of all military branches (Army, Navy, and Air Force). Similar to USSOCOM or UKSF, COS was created on 24 June 1992, following the Gulf War. Its role is to direct and coordinate missions for special forces units; these are permanently under its direct command and immediately available for action. The command is led by a brigadier general or rear admiral, a NATO OF-6 post.
The COS consists of 2 known “circles”. COS does not officially recognise the 2nd circle but it is a well known term used by members and units. Circles are basically tiers. COS Command do not officially recognise any tier 2 units however tier 2 or 2nd circle operators receive better gear than a standard infantryman eg. they have access to Scar rifles and they also conduct more specialized missions and are essentially special operation capable to a certain extent. The 1st circle is under permanent COS command and the 2nd circle being called in for reinforcement. In the end, the COS can commandeer any members of the armed forces for special operations if necessary. There is no official documentation confirming the term “2nd circle”.
Tier 1 Units:
Army Special Forces Command: 1st Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment (1er RPIMa), 13th Parachute Dragoon Regiment (13e RDP) 4th Special Forces Helicopter Regiment (4e RHFS)
Force des Fusiliers Marins et Commandos (FORFUSCO): Commando Hubert, Commando de Penfentenyo, Commando Jaubert, Commando de Montfort, Commando Trépel, Commando Kieffer, Commando Ponchardier
Air Parachute Commando n° 10, CPA 10 (French: Commando parachutiste de l’air n° 10)
Division des Opérations Spéciales (DOS; “Special Operations Division”)
The COS is not in charge of all special military units within the French Armed Forces. Action Division of France’s Directorate-General for External Security (DGSE) is responsible for planning and performing clandestine and covert operations including black operations. The core specialisations of the Action Division are sabotage, destruction of materiel, assassination, detaining/kidnapping, and infiltration/exfiltration of persons into/from hostile territory. DGSE operatives are based in three so-called “training centres”, officially not combat units then, which compose the Centre d’Instruction des Réservistes Parachutistes (CIRP, “Paratrooper Reservist Instruction Centre”).