The armed forces of France (French Forces armées françaises and Armée française) are, as with most modern armed forces, divided into various forces. Classically again the division into Army, Air Force and Navy. The special feature of the French armed forces is the integration of the Gendarmerie Nationale (a paramilitary police force) and the professional fire brigade of Paris and Marseille, which belong to the army or the navy.
In effect, France has about 245,000 soldiers in the true sense of the word in 2009.
- Soldat de deuxième classe
- Soldat de première classe
- Caporal-chef de première classe
Soldat de deuxième classe (1), Soldat de première classe (2), Caporal (3), Caporal-chef (4), Caporal-chef de première classe (5)
- élève sous-officier der École nationale des sous-officiers d'active
élève sous-officier der École nationale des sous-officiers d'active (6), Sergent (7), Sergent-chef (8), Adjudant (9), Adjudant-chef (10), Major (11)
Officiers subalternes (subalterns)
Élève-officier (12), Aspirant (13), Sous-lieutenant (14), Lieutenant (15), Capitaine (16)
Officiers supérieurs (staff officers)
Commandant (17), Lieutenant-colonel (18), Colonel (19)
The rank of Commandant is also divided into the respective troop membership:
- Chief of the battalion in the infantry, at the pioneers and the telecommunications
- Chief d 'escadron in the cavalry of the artillery and transport supply officer
- Chief d'escadrille in the army aviation (Aviation Légère de l 'Armée de Terre)
Officiers généraux (generals)
- Général de brigade
- Général de division
- Général de corps d'armée
- Général d'armée
Général de brigade (20), Général de division (21), Général de corps d'armée (22), Général d'armée (23)
- Gouverneur militaire de Paris
Commander-in-Chief of the military in Paris
- Amiral de France
Marine Commander in Chief
- Marechal de France
Gouverneur militaire de Paris (1), Amiral de France (2), Marechal de France (3)
The ranks Marine Supreme Commander and Army Commander in Chief are vacant and are used only in case of war.
The commander-in-chief of the military in Paris is not a proper rank, he is, regardless of rank, the position of leading the Paris-based military against attacks.
Commissariat de l'armée de terre (Administrative branch of the land forces)
- Commissaire sous-lieutenant
- Commissaire lieutenant
- Commissaire capitaine
- Commissaire commandant
- Commissaire lieutenant-colonel
- Commissaire colonel
- Commissaire général de brigade
- Commissaire général de division
- Commissaire général de corps d'armée (without badges)
Commissaire sous-lieutenant (1), Commissaire lieutenant (2), Commissaire capitaine (3), Commissaire commandant (4), Commissaire lieutenant-colonel (5), Commissaire colonel (6), Commissaire général de brigade (7), Commissaire général de division (8)
You can find the right literature here:
The French Army in the First World War: Rare Photographs from wartime Archives (Images Of War)
The French army of the First World War withstood the main force of the German onslaught on the Western Front, but often it is neglected in English histories of the conflict. Now, though, keen interest in the war in general and in the part the French played in it has prompted a fresh appreciation of their army and the men who served in it.
Ian Sumner’s wide-ranging photographic history is an important contribution in this growing field. Using a selection of over 150 rare wartime photographs, he provides a graphic overview of every aspect of a French soldier’s service during the struggle.
But while the photographs create a fascinating all-round portrait of the French poilu at war, they also give an insight into the army as a whole, and offer a rare French perspective on the Great War.
The Last Valley
In December 1953 French paratroopers, who had been searching for the elusive Vietnamese army, were quickly isolated by them and forced to retreat into their out-gunned and desolate jungle base-a small place called Dien Bien Phu. The Vietnamese besieged the French base for five long and desperate months. Eventually, the demoralized and weakened French were utterly depleted and withdrew in defeat. The siege at Dien Bien Phu was a landmark battle of the last century-the first defeat of modern western forces by an Asian guerilla army.The Last Valley is the first new account of the battle since the 1970s. The author has incorporated much new material from French and Vietnamese sources, including veteran interviews, making this the most complete account to-date. And Martin Windrow has received widespread praise from top historians such as John Keegan and Max Hastings (below), as well as reviewers on both sides of the Atlantic.
French Tanks of World War II (1)
All the French medium and heavy tanks of 1940 are in this title: Renault FT, Renault R-35, FCM-36, Hotchkiss H.38, Char B1bis, Renault D-1, and Renault D-2.
The first volume of this two part series will cover the infantry tanks and battle tanks that served in 1940. Starting with the Renault FT of World War I fame, it will cover the modernization of the FT in the inter-war years. The focus of the infantry tank section will be on the attempts to replace the FT with designs such as the Renault R-35, FCM-36, and the Hotchkiss H.38. Derivatives of these types will also be covered such as the R-40. France also had a separate family of battle tanks starting with the Renault D-1, Renault D-2, and finally the best known tank of the campaign, the Char B1 bis. This book will provide a brief development account these tanks types, covering the tactical rationales for their design and their basic technical features. It will also briefly address their performance in the 1940 campaign, pointing out the salient features of the combat record.
French Tanks of World War II (2)
The design quality of France's armored vehicles is somewhat forgotten in light of the myth of superiority surrounding the German Panzers' role in the Blitzkrieg against France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
The second volume of two covering the French tanks of World War II, this title focuses primarily on the design, development, combat performance, and technical features of France's armored cavalry vehicles, including the AMR and AMC families of light reconnaissance tanks, and the famous Somua S.35 cavalry tank. Also examined are the wide array of armored cars and half-tracks employed by the French Cavalry, and the extensively produced Hotchkiss H-35/H-39 series that was designed for the Cavalry but also saw widespread use by the Infantry. This volume also looks at the specialized armored vehicles used by the French military, including the Chenillette US, Lorraine, and the various tank destroyer types brought hastily into service in 1940.