The National Gendarmerie Intervention Group, commonly abbreviated GIGN (French: Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale), is a special operations unit of the French Armed Forces. It is part of the National Gendarmerie and is trained to perform counter-terrorist and hostage rescue missions in France or anywhere else in the world.
After the Munich massacre during the Olympic Games in 1972, and a prison mutiny in Clairvaux Prison the year before, France started to study the possible solutions to extremely violent attacks, under the assumptions that these would be difficult to predict and deflect.
In 1973, the GIGN became a permanent force of men trained and equipped to respond to threats of this kind while minimizing risks to the public and hostages, for the members of the unit, and for the attackers themselves. The GIGN became operational on the first of March, 1974, under the command of Lieutenant Christian Prouteau.
Unlike many anti-terrorist units, GIGN is not only used for anti-terrorist operations but also in arrest of dangerous criminals, countering barricaded suspects, quelling prison riots, VIP protection, and other high-risk police operations within France or former colonies.
Source: French Anti Terror Unit
During the 35 years of GIGN’s existence it has taken part in over 1,000 operations and rescued more than five-hundred hostages.