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Military unity: the entire organization of the French Army!

Military unity: the entire organization of the French Army!

Want to know everything there is to know about the French Army? You've come to the right place! The French Army has its own unique organization. Like many other foreign armies, the French Army is organized into military units, each with its own strengths.

Here's everything you need to know about the organization and military units of the French Army!

The French Army: how is it organized?

military unit france

The French Army is organized into four main defense forces. 3 of these are under the authority of the French Ministry of Defense, and the final force is under the authority of both the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of the Interior. Each of these forces has its own internal organization, with its own regiments (for the Army) and military units. Here are the 3 main forces under the Ministry of Defense:

  • Land forces: the French Army
  • Naval force: the French Navy
  • Air Force: the French Air and Space Force

This is the latest force to come under the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Defense:

  • National Gendarmerie

The French Armed Forces are organized according to a precise hierarchy: the region or theater of operation, then the army group (front), then the Army, then the Army Corps, itself made up of several regiments.

You can find full details of the French Army's military units on the Ministry of the Armed Forces website.

French Army military units

land forces

The French Army is organized into 4 major corps: infantry, cavalry, artillery and engineers. There are also other regiments: find all the Army Corps on the French Army website!

Infantry regiment

The infantry regiment groups together all the soldiers who defend the territory on foot. It's one of the oldest regiments in the French Army! This regiment calls its soldiers infantrymen. The infantry is the Army known as the "Queen of Battles", since its soldiers are closest to the enemy. They are the ones who bring victory to a close, and the ones who make contact with civilians and populations.

Like other regiments, the infantry is organized according to a precise hierarchy:

  • Division
  • Brigade
  • Regiment
  • Battalion
  • Company
  • Section
  • Group
  • Team
  • Infantryman

All the information about the infantry on the French Army website.

Cavalry regiment

The cavalry regiment is made up of soldiers who fight on horseback. This very special regiment is legendary, and the third oldest in the world! Cavalry first appeared in antiquity, and is no longer used in warfare. Even so, it's a highly mobile regiment that has proved formidable in past conflicts. Today, in France, cavalry is used for its prestige and for official ceremonies.

Its hierarchical organization is as follows:

  • Division
  • Brigade
  • Regiment
  • Squadron group
  • Squadron
  • Platoon
  • Rider

All the information about the armored cavalry on the French Army website.

Artillery regiment

Artillery is a learned weapon, comprising all soldiers who fight enemy troops with firearms. This regiment has existed since the battle of Castillon in 1453, and is crucial to victory in any conflict. Artillery soldiers fight with firearms (cannon, rockets, etc.) and are called artillerymen. They celebrate Saint Barbara's Day, and their rallying cry is "Et par sainte Barbe... Vive la Bombarde!".

The hierarchical organization of the artillery regiment is similar to that of previous regiments. It is as follows:

  • Division
  • Brigade
  • Regiment
  • Squadron
  • Battery
  • Troupe
  • Section
  • Bombardier, gunner

All the information about artillery on the French Army website.

Engineer regiment

The Engineers are the French Army's "arme savante ". Founded in 1776 with the Corps Royal du Génie, this regiment uses armored vehicles and melee weapons to attack. Its motto is "sometimes destroy, often build, always serve". The engineers are deployed in command, living and logistics positions. Its soldiers are called sappers or engineer men. The Paris fire department is part of the engineering regiment.

All the information you need about engineering on the French Army website.

Military units of the French Navy


French naval troops are part of the French Army. They are organized into the same regiments as the French Army (infantry, artillery, engineers, etc.).

The French Navy also has special forces:

  • The Marseille marine firefighters battalion
  • Maritime Gendarmerie
  • Naval Action Force (FAN)
  • Submarine forces (FSM)
  • Naval Aviation Maritime Force (AVIA)
  • The maritime force of marine fusiliers and commandos (FORFUSCO)

Their organization is similar to that of the French Army, and is based on a hierarchy. Here's the Navy hierarchy:

  • Fleet
  • Wing
  • Division
  • Flotilla
  • Unit (vessel)
  • Company or department
  • Sector
  • Sailor or quartermaster, rifleman

Discover our article on recruitment in the French Navy if you want to join the French naval force!

Military units of the French Air and Space Force

air force

The French Air and Space Force is organized differently from the French Army and Navy. There is no regiment as such, but rather echelons and services. There are three echelons: the squadron, the squadron (or group) and the escadrille; plus two additional services: the BFSA air commando fusiliers and the air firefighters.

Here's a more detailed breakdown of the hierarchical organization of the French Air Force:

  • Fleet
  • Wing
  • Group
  • Escadrille
  • Patrol

There is also a regiment dedicated to aviation in the French Army: theAviation Légère de l'Armée de Terre (ALAT). Its motto is "From the Earth, through the Sky". This regiment comprises all soldiers who fly the Army's light air vehicles, such as military helicopters.

Discover all our articles on military aviation:

Military units of the French Gendarmerie


The Gendarmerie Nationale is a special kind of armed force, answerable both to the Ministry of Defense (like other armies) and to the Ministry of the Interior. As such, the Gendarmerie Nationale operates in both military and civilian environments. It is not organized by regiment, but by service and intervention group, such as the GIGN (Groupe d'Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale) or the Garde républicaine.

The French Gendarmerie's regiments are organized by hierarchy:

  • General Management
  • Defence zone
  • Legion
  • Group or Mobile Gendarmerie Group
  • Company or squadron Brigade (territorial) or platoon

Find all the information you need about the Gendarmerie Nationale on the government website!

Other military units of the French Army: the guards

garde republicaine

The French Army also has other military units that are considered special intervention units. These military units sometimes belong to one of the Armed Forces, but can also be independent. These military units are known as gardes militaires and are used as a last resort for intervention. They include the Foreign Legion and the Republican Guard.

The Foreign Legion

The Foreign Legion is a special kind of assault troop, since it recruits only soldiers of foreign origin (without French nationality). Legionnaires are combatants who can intervene anywhere in the world. Recruitment requirements are strict: the soldier must be male, aged between 17.5 and 39.5. Many nationalities are represented in the Foreign Legion: Germans, Italians, Poles, Swiss, etc.

The Foreign Legion march is unique in that it is slower than other French army marches. As such, legionnaires march first during official ceremonies. The Legionnaires' march is known as Le Boudin.

Read our article on famous military music to find out more about Le Boudin, the march of the French Foreign Legion!

The Republican Guard

The Garde républicaine is a branch of the Gendarmerie nationale, responsible for high-security missions throughout France. It is subordinate to the Gendarmerie d'Île-de-France and comprises a cavalry regiment, two infantry regiments, a motorcycle squadron and musical units (such as the Garde républicaine orchestra). It was formerly known as the Garde républicaine de Paris.

How to join the French Army

join army

Interested in joining the French Army? It's a wise decision, (future) soldier! To join the French Army, we advise you to visit the French Army recruitment website to check all the information you need to join the French Army. The recruitment process varies according to your age, qualifications, nationality and the profession you wish to pursue.

During your recruitment, you will also have to undergo a military medical examination to ensure that you have no physical or psychological contraindications to becoming a soldier.

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Hervé BLUMEL - April 11, 2024

Having carried out operations with the French army as part of my job, I have very fond memories of them. Hervé BLUMEL.

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