French Special Operations

Recherche Assistance Intervention Dissuasion (RAID)


Recherche Assistance Intervention Dissuasion (Research, Assistance, Intervention, Deterrence) is the counter-terrorist unit of the French National Police. It the roughly the police equivalent of the GIGN (which is a Gendarmerie unit).

RAID was founded in 1985, in response to a bombing and murder campaign. RAID is unique among police special units in that it recruits directly from all walks of life and not from the police.


RAID has a strength of around 60 and is divided into three main sections:

First Section

The first section deals with the usual tasks of special forces: intervention, monitoring, protection.

Second Section

The second section is the Research and Development unit of the RAID. It studies techniques and collects information. This section is divided into three groups:

• Intelligence Group
• Technical Group
• Weaponry Group

Third section

The Third section deals with the psychological aspects of the interventions. It is in charge of negotiations and crisis management.

It also provides psychological support for the policemen in the unit and in the whole French Police. It is composed by Forensic experts, a psychologist and physicians.

The Negotiation group is on permanent alert. It deals with suicides, violent crises, mental disorders, hostage crises and other major troubles, independently from the rest of the RAID. It assesses the dangers of the situation, suggests possible solutions, and helps with the negotiations and the resolution of the crises. If the whole RAID has to intervene, the Negotiations section is used as a reconnaissance unit, and prepares the intervention of the other sections.


RAID has special competences : “Plan Piratair” (for plane hijackings), nuclear sites, the Channel Tunnel, the trains, and other strategic sites.

The first intervention of RAID was widely publicized. A madman, calling himself “HB” (for “Human Bomb”, in English), and carrying large quantities of explosives, took 21 children hostages in a school in Neuilly. Nicolas Sarkozy, mayor of Neuilly at the time, managed to obtain the liberation of several children. After 46 hours, the madman fell asleep; members of RAID crept into the school to evacuate the children, and the madman was shot dead as he suddenly woke up and tried to reach the explosives. All the children were safe, as well as their teacher and a nurse.

RAID also arrested members of Action Directe in a more counter-terrorist action.

Recently, RAID operators saw action during the 2005 and 2006 riots in France, as well as in a hostage situation in Versailles, where an armed man was shot dead by RAID operators after coming under attack.

RAID is in charge of the protection of foreign dignitaries traveling in France. Three of its members have died in service.

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