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Bataillon de Fusiliers Marins

Since the 1980s the has boasted a modest amphibious capability, based on a Polish LCT (landing craft, tank) and two larger British-built landing ships acquired in 1983 and 1984. But these landing ships are probably used mostly for logistics. The Algerian Bataillon de Fusiliers Marins (BFM - Naval Infantry Battalion) sounds like it might be a counterpart to the US Marine Corps, but it is more of a commando and security unit, not an amphibious assault formation. Their counterparts, the Air Commando Fusiliers, are a security and protection force for air force bases - air mobile and not strictly special nor elite.

Janes reports that the "Marine Fusilier (Naval Infantry) unit: at least 600 personnel - probably based on the French Fusilier Marine or Commandos Marine with some trained as combatant nageur. Likely to include three infantry companies with mortar and anti-tank platoons. Offensive (Combat) Divers, all trained at Jijel, 250 km (155 miles) east of Algiers." The word "nageur" is French for swimmer.

The Bataillon de Fusiliers Marins participated in Exercise Phoenix Express (PE09), a two-week exercise designed to strengthen regional maritime partnerships and is part of the overall U.S. Africa Command theater security cooperation strategy to enhance regional stability through increased interoperability and partnership among participating nations. Participating countries include Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Senegal, Spain, Turkey, Greece, Portugal, Italy, France, Malta, Croatia and the United States. Participating countries in PE12 include Algeria, Croatia, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Libya, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States.

Originally infantry soldiers armed with the fusil, a name used for the snaphaunce or flintlock musket to differentiate it from the matchlock musket in the mid-17th century. Flintlock muskets, called fusils as opposed to mousquets (for matchlocks) in French, were expensive and more complicated to operate and so, when they were first introduced into European armies, they were intended for use by specialist troops; in the nature of things such specialists elevated themselves into élite units.

Today in France the Fusiliers Commandos de l'Air (FUSCO - air commandos fusiliers) are the protection of air force bases and sites and they can be used for reconnaissance missions, retrieval, evacuation of nationals and law enforcement. The 2,400 Marines and commandos of the fusiliers marins et commandos [FORFUSCO] in the French Navy have similar missions, though a distinction is made between the Marines (blue beret) and their special forces component : Navy commandos (green beret). They distinguished themselves during the wars of 1870, 1914-1918 with the brigade of Marines of Admiral île Ronarc'h ' h, 1939-1945 with the 1St regiment of Marines (RFM), the armored regiment of Marines, and the 1st Battalion of fusiliers marins commandos under Commander Kieffer, in Indochina, and in North Africa with the Demi-brigade of Marines (DBFM - La demi-brigade de fusiliers marins).

In England the Fusiliers took their title from the time of King James II in 1685 when he ordered Lord Dartmouth to form an Ordnance Regiment to guard the artillery. He called them my Royal Regiment of Fuzileers and had them armed with the Fusil, the most up to date weapon of the day. By 1830 there were only four Regiments of Fusiliers in the British Service: the 7th, or Royal; 21st, or Royal North British; 23d, or Royal Welsh; and the 87th, or Royal Irish. They derived this designation from the circumstance of having been formerly armed with musquets shorter and lighter than were given to the rest of the Army; their Officers, at that time, carrying fusees, a small light musquet. Fusilier Regiments wore the Bear-skin Grenadier Cap, and possessed the distinction of their junior Rank being that of Second Lieutenants, who took precedence of all Ensigns. The 7th Fusiliers had no Second Lieutenants or Ensigns. By 1836 the British regular infantry consisted of 103 batallions, including eight regiments of light infantry; four battalions of riflemen, and five regiments of fusiliers. Fusiliers have seen service across the world and found themselves at the sharp end in countries as diverse as Northern Ireland and Cyprus. More recently the Regiment served in the Balkans and took part in the first and second Gulf wars.

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Page last modified: 14-12-2012 19:02:58 ZULU