Chasseurs Alpins

Chasseurs alpins
Bastille Day 2014 Paris - Motorised troops 025.jpg
Chasseurs alpins
Active1888–present
Country France
BranchFrance French Army
TypeInfantry
RoleMountain Infantry
SizeThree battalions
Garrison/HQ7e Bataillon – Varces-Allières-et-Risset
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)
EngagementsWorld War I (incl. Battle of the Yser)
World War II (incl. Battle of Narvik
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.

History

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'"/"Foot Rifles'") battalions.

Initially these units were named Bataillons Alpins de Chasseurs à Pied ("Alpine Battalions of Hunters on Foot"/"Alpine Foot Rifle Battalions"). 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 (daffodil) hunting horn insignia of the Chasseur branch. They are believed to have been the first regular military unit to have worn this form of headdress.

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