Chasseurs Alpins

Chasseurs Alpins

Chasseurs alpins
Active 1888–present
Country  France
Branch France French Army
Type Infantry
Role Mountain Infantry
Size Three battalions
Garrison/HQ 7e Bataillon – Bourg-Saint-Maurice
13e Bataillon – Chambéry
27e Bataillon – Cran-Gevrier
Nickname(s) Les diables bleus (Eng: The Blue Devils)
Motto(s) Jamais être pris vivant (Eng: Never to be Taken Alive)
Sans peur et sans reproche (Eng :Without fear and beyond reproach)
Engagements First World War (incl. Battle of the Yser)
Second World War (incl. Battle of Narvik and Battle of Pont Saint-Louis)
War in Afghanistan (incl. Battle of Alasay)

The Chasseurs Alpins (English: Alpine Hunters) are the elite mountain infantry of the French Army. They are trained to operate in mountainous terrain and in urban warfare.


Chasseurs alpins during the Occupation of the Ruhr in Buer (now Gelsenkirchen), 1923.

France created its own mountain corps in the late 19th century in order to oppose any Italian invasion through the Alps. In 1859–70 Italy became unified, forming a powerful state. The French army saw this geopolitical change as a potential threat to their Alpine border, especially as the Italian army was already creating troops specialized in mountain warfare (the Alpini). On December 24, 1888, the first troupes de montagne ("mountain troops") corps were created from 12 of the 31 existing Chasseurs à Pied ("Hunters on Foot") battalions.

Initially these units were named Bataillons Alpins de Chasseurs à Pied ("Alpine Battalions of Hunters on Foot"). Later this was shortened to Bataillons de Chasseurs Alpins ("Battalions of Alpine Hunters"). From their establishment the Chasseurs Alpins wore a plain and practical uniform designed to be suitable for mountain service. This comprised a loose-fitting dark blue jacket and blue-grey breeches, together with a large beret carrying the yellow bugle horn insignia of the Chasseur branch. They are believed to have been the first regular military unit to have worn this form of headdress.

Modern unit

Training of Chasseurs Alpins on the Mont Blanc massif.
13th Battalion in Chambéry (Savoie)

Since 1999 they have been (with other units) part of the 27th Mountain Infantry Brigade (Brigade d'Infanterie de Montagne), and are currently organised into three battalions:

All three battalions are based in cities in the French Alps, thus the name of the units.

Training includes climbing, cross-country skiing, plus winter and summer mountain leadership and mountain guiding skills. Traditional training included mountain survival skills such as to build an igloo shelter and to sleep in temperatures around 0 °C. Modern troops may be transported in all-terrain VMBs, VACs, (Bandvagn 206) or untracked VAB personnel carriers. Personal weaponry includes the FAMAS assault rifle, Minimi machine gun, FRF-2 sniper rifle, PGM Hécate II heavy sniper rifle, and LGI light mortar, while group weapons included the M2 machine gun, LLR 81mm mortar, and vehicle-mounted 20 mm autocannon, plus AT4, ERYX and MILAN anti-tank missiles.

The Chasseurs are easily recognised by their wide beret (when not in battle uniform), named the tarte des Alpes (after a type traditional alpine hat). Note though that this is also worn by other mountain troops, such as the cavalry, artillery, and signals. However the mountain troops of the Foreign Legion engineers wear the legion green beret.

The 16th Battalion of Chasseurs are not mountain troops and wear the standard French Army blue beret with the chasseur cap badge.

Various traditions

Military band of the Chasseurs alpins

Chasseurs do not say rouge (red) but bleu-cerise (cherry blue - The color of blood on their blue uniforms), except when speaking of the color of the lips of a beloved, the red in the Legion of Honour's insignia (including its fourragère which is called la rouge), and the red of the French flag. This stems from the days when Napoleon III tried to impose the wearing of the scarlet pantalons garance. The mountain troops objected, and no longer use the word 'red' as a result.

The chasseurs have a few other typicalities in what they say:

The Chasseurs are said to have green blood, after the pun: "Le sang vert, c'est pour la France; Le sang versé pour la France" ("Green blood is for France'; Blood shed, 'poured out', for France").

Note that these traditions are also shared by the 16th Battalion of Chasseurs, who are not chasseurs alpins.

When marching with the band and bugles, the marching pace is 140 steps a minute - faster than any other armed forces units.

Choruses and Ringin

A chasseur salutes when he hears the chorus of his battalion, or Les Allobroges (the anthem of Savoie). Each battalion has a different chorus, and a chasseur must learn all of them:


There is a single colour for all the battalions of chasseurs; the colours are held at the Fort Neuf de Vincennes. The colour guard is divided between the 7th, 13th and 27th battalion, and with the 16th battalion which is a mechanized unit.


Shoulder ranks insigna

Enlisted & NCO


Note: the NCO ranks Brigadier and Maréchal-des-logis are not used in the Chasseurs Alpins corps since they belong to the infantry.

See also

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This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/20/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.