“There are socialists, communists, cubists, capitalists, Vichyists, fascists, meharistists, nudists, syndicalists, existentialists, lampisists, Marxists, monarchists, Gaullists, Bonapartists, violinists, pushers..etc.
If you’ve not made your mind up yet if you’re a man, why not become a parachutist?” –French military recruiting poster, 1950.
The French were actually one of the first countries to field paratroopers, after a group of officers studied with the Soviets in the 1930s, with the 601e G.I.A, forming in 1937. Continuing their service with the British during WWII as part of the SAS, the 1st Parachute Chasseur Battalion (1er BCP n°1) was formed in 1943.
During the Indochinese War, Paris organized almost a dozen Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian airborne battalions.
These augmented an even larger force of Colonial Marine and French Foreign Legion units that raced all over Southeast Asia as a fire brigade to try and put out Viet Minh flareups.
Some were rushed to Dien Bein Phu with their combat jump being the first time they hit the silk.
They kept up the trend in Algeria with the 14th and 19th Algerian Parachute (Parachutistes Algériens) battalions.
With the force shrinking after 1961– where the two airborne divisions (10e D.P and 25e D.P) along with the Legion’s 1e REP were all disbanded when they took part in the revolt against De Gaulle– today the Republic still has the 11th Parachute Brigade (11e BP), the French Foreign Legion’s 2nd Parachute Regiment (2ème REP), as well as the 2nd Marine Parachute Regiment (2e RPIMa) to call on.
Although they now use German-made rifles, because, why not?