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France Armée d'Afrique 4th Part The Native Troops ( English Version )

Article fait par :Charles Janier

Mis en ligne le 09/09/2008 à 18:27:09

L 'Armée d'Afrique (4th Part)
The native troops

French Version Here

Goums'  Flag Agades Cross Tirailleurs' badge 1st Spahis' Standard

Remember that, as early as the first months after the landing at Sidi-Ferruch, french command, in order to face its new mission of conquest, has cruelly suffered from a lack of strength. He got the idea to call on native recruits services, these natives that it has named ‘indigenous”. These troops of volunteers as they had been during the ottoman Regency time, had specific characteristics which stood in the way of their integration into units composed by europeans. Have been simply created new units wholly composed of native soldiers.
The Infantry native troops
The native troops which have been formed and used as infantrymen have constituted only one subdivision of arms, the Tirailleurs. They are involved in all the french colonial expeditions campaigns. That is how the first Tirailleurs have been recruited in Algeria and have been named Tirailleurs Algériens. As soon as 1881, during the Tunisia campaign, have been made up the Tunisian Tirailleurs. And in 1912 with the french intervention in Morroco have been created the Morrocan Tirailleurs.
The Tirailleurs Algériens ( Algerian Tirailleurs )


If the Zouaves have been institutionalized as early as 1831, the Tirailleurs existence and organization will be regularized only ten years later by the king Louis-Philippe’s ordinance of december 7, 1841. The name of “ Tirailleurs ” had already appeared to indicate some sparse native units and it’s in order “ to give them a strong and regular constitution and to ensure their good administration “ that have been created the first Native Tirailleurs Battalions. In fact the ordinances of 1841, eleven years after Sidi-Ferruch landing, have “consecrated the native troops existence ( either infantrymen or horsemen )... and they have bestowed on them an organization in accordance with the organization of the other french army units among which they had definitely taken their place“.
The Algeria conquest experience emphasizes the use, both in the military and in the economic points of view, to maintain in this colony great strength able to stay there continously. The french use the military service of natives as a strong means of assimilation.
When they are created, the Native Tirailleurs Battalions are formed by an amalgam of the Beys turkish battalions in the regions where they are installed, and of Tirailleurs battalions already existing. It seams that it is in these turkish units we can find the familiar name of “Turcos” which has been indicating the Tirailleurs during almost one century.
We must wait untill the year 1855 to have the three first Algerian Tirailleurs Regiments being created. These Tirailleurs will cover themselves with glory in all the battlefields where french army gets involved. They take part in all french colonial expeditions and they devote thoroughly themselves to defend french national territory when it is threaten during the 1870-1871 war of France against Prussia and during the two XXth century world wars.
The Tirailleurs dress has the same cutting out as the Zouaves, called « tenue orientale » (oriental dress), but it is fully coloured with sky blue. This sky blue colour will stay moreover the official colour of the Tirailleurs insignas and badges. Remember that the colour of the oriental dress bolero bottom indicates the number of the regiment in which our Tirailleur is serving. This indication is explained page 29 in the chapter 231-A-1 written with regard to the Zouaves. The Tirailleur’s headdress is the madder chechia without the Chasseurs d’Afrique three black horizontal stripes, that he puts on straight and short.
In addition to this magnificent “ tenue orientale “, what was making the fame of Tirailleurs parades was their column head. A column head is the group which appears in the front of the parade. Among Tirailleurs all the parades are openend by a “ nouba “ which is a musical group using specific music instruments such as the arab drum “ tbol “ and the arab flute called “ ghaïta “. In the middle of the nouba a tirailleur brings the “ chapeau chinois “ (chinese hat), recollection of the turkish noubas, composed by a long stick surmounted by a chinese hat and trimmed in its brims with a range of bells which ring when we shake the stick jerkily.
More than all, the mascot animal who marches past in the front of the nouba is its principal attraction. This animal is often a ram, sometimes a mouflon, the meat of which is particularly appreciated by the Tirailleurs and that the Tirailleurs brought with them in all their campaigns anticipating a lack of food.
The Tirailleurs Algériens have provided the greatest strength of the troops composing the Armée d’Afrique. There has been up to 29 Algerian Tirailleurs Regiments. Seven of them have got their colour awarded with the Légion d’Honneur.
Their traditions are preserved by the 1rst Tirailleurs Regiment which has been formed again in 1994 at Epinal and which is in posssession of the glorious colour of the 1rst R.T.A. ( Régiment de Tirailleurs Algérians ) disbanded in 1964.

The Tirailleurs Tunisiens ( Tunisian Tirailleurs )


Except their numbering based on the figure « 4 « and its multiples, nothing can make a virtual distinction between the Tunisian Tirailleurs Regiments and the Algerian Tirailleurs Regiments.
The financial squanderings generated by the Deys of Tunis, their carelessness and the situation of anarchy which resulted at the second half of XIXth century in Tunisia, push France in 1881 to intervene in this country, seeing that, after it has conquested east of Algeria, it was the great neighboring nation. In order to success in its mission concerning the development of this new territory, France
establishes its protectorate in this country.
The algerian experience has showed us that such a mission cannot be managed without the protection and the support of many troops, but that these military forces are difficult to be obtained. French command has learned how to increase its strength by incorporating in its army contingents recruited among the natives. It was all the more easy to be realized in Tunisia because this country was, in the XIXth century, the only one in North-Africa which had got a real organization for military recruiting. Has been set up, as soon as 1881, a “ Free Company “ of tunisian infantrymen to which have been assigned during more than three years other autonomous native units in order to form in 1884 the “ Beylical Guard “. The tunisian army was strengthened. Beylical government understood that military legislation could be streched in all the country. Only in 1889 the whole country is legally reorganized. In 1913 are created two “ Native Tirailleurs Regiments “ which take part to the 1914-1918 big war, but they had been named “ Algerian Tirailleurs “ because Tunis Dey had not declared war on Germany.
It was only in 1921 that the glory gleaned by the tunisian regiments over all european battlefields pushes the french government to name them officially “ Tunisian Tirailleurs Regiments “.
Why would they change the successful experience which was at the origin of Algerain Tirailleurs ? The organization, the use, the uniform of Tunisian Tirailleurs were the same as those of Algerian Tirailleurs. We must specify that, in their uniform, the Tunisians bolero bottom colour is blue.
There has been in total nine regiments of Tunisian Tirailleurs. Remember that, to distinguish Algerian Tirailleurs from Tunisian Tirailleurs, these ones have got a numbering multiple of the figure « 4 «. The first of the Régiments de Tirailleurs Tunisiens – R.T.T. - (Tunisian Tirailleurs Regiments) is called in fact the 4th R.T.T. The colours of three from the nine R.T.T. which have existed have been awarded by the Légion d’Honneur. These are the 4th, the 16th and the 24th. The remaining Tunisian Tirailleurs Regiments were disbanded in the years 1962 and 1964, just after the independence of Tunisia being proclaimed in 1956.

The Tirailleurs Marocains ( Moroccan Tirailleurs)


Moroccan Tirailleurs 1939



The political reasons which have pushed France to intervene in Morocco are not comparable at all with those of Tunisia. In fact, at the end of XIXth century, Morocco, tormented by anarchy, is an “ empire which collapses “ having become a covetousness object for many european powers. France, already settled in Algeria and Tunisia, because it is threatened on the western border north of Algeria by incessant raids of armed rebels coming from west, sends its troops in 1904 and then in 1907 in several parts of Morocco. Appealed by the cherifian sultan, Moulay Youssef, it extends its range on the whole country, except the north coastal area which falls under the domination of Spain.
The total disorganization of Morocco pushes France as soon as 1912 to create these famous native units indispensable for its troops reinforcement in order to pacify the country.
The T.A.M. (Moroccan Auxiliary Troops) are created on june 16, 1912, with the soldiers who remained faithful to the new sultan. These units have got in their composition morrocan, french and indigenous (algerian tunisain) soldiers. We shall specify that the name “indigenous”, at the beginning of XXth century, refers to algerian and tunisain units which were serving in french army and which, moreover, at this time, are all called “Algerian”.
Two years after the T.A.M. creation, in august 1914 the first world war breaks out. French government needs the maximum of forces in order to oppose the german army attack on the border north-east of France. All the troops are necessary, even those which have been raised on the territories out of France. As the algerian, as the tunisian, moroccan are sent to France. Since the sultan of Morocco has not declared war on Germany, T.A.M. units cannot be called
“ Moroccan “. They are named “ Brigade de Chasseurs Indigènes “ (Native Chasseurs Brigade). After the first bloody engagements of the Ourcq battle, the brigade, reduced to 700 men, is disbanded on september 22, 1914 and its units give birth to the 1rst Régiment de Marche de Tirailleurs Marocains - R.M.T.M. (Moroccan Tirailleurs Walk Regiment) on december 25, 1914.
Since that date will be created : a second R.M.T.M. which will take part in the
“ great war “ end, and only in 1920, eight other regiments which are named R.T.M. – Régiments de Tirailleurs Marocains (Moroccan Tirailleurs Regiments). These eight new R.T.M. will serve between the two world wars in Morocco and in the Levant. All the R.T.M. take part ardently in the defence of french territory in 1939-1940. Six R.T.M. pay heavy tribute during Indochina war (1945-1954). They finish their existence by taking part in the Algeria war (1954-1962). They are successively disbanded from 1960 to 1965, after independence of Morocco proclaimed in 1956.
Among the ten R.T.M. which have existed from 1914 to the end of Algeria war, we must quote the 1rst R.T.M. the colour of which is awarded with Légion d’Honneur.
If Tunisian have adopted unreservedly the Algerian Tirailleur uniform, it was not the same with Morrocan. Actually these ones were reluctant to dress like Algerians. The Morrocan Tirailleurs uniform therefore is different from the Algerian-Tunisian dress in many points. Of course Moroccan Tirailleurs are dressed, them too, with oriental style clothes, but with a cutting different from the cutting of Algerian-Tunisian Tirailleurs or of Zouaves.
Trousers with an arab shape, called saghouel, cut in a madder cloth, are accepted whitout any difficulty because they are more or less the trousers of all North-African. But the bolero and the guennour (headdress with a big turban), inspired by the Turkish, come up against the categoric refusal of Moroccan who have never been colonized by the Turkish..
And that is how Moroccan Tirailleurs wear a tunic which has nothing similar to a bolero. It is the tunic with the general cutting, but in sky blue cloth, closed in front up to the collar with seven uniform studs, the collar being turned-down. The tunic tails are not turned-down, even if the Tirailleur is surrounded with a large scarlet flannel waistband. The tunic tails fall down completely upon the madder saghouel. The saghouel bottoms are tightened by two dark blue puttees.
The Moroccan Tirailleur’s headdress is a holland scarf, 2.50 meters long, and directly rolled on the skull according to the Atlas berber tribes method. This scarf is rolled with an incorporated strip indicating the battalion colour.

The Cavalry native troops : the Spahis
The conquest of Algeria could certainly not be started without a numerous and experted infantry. But, as we have discovered, this infantry, relatively heavy, could not carry through all its missions of penetration and reconnaissance without the support, and even the complementarity of horse units. But the french expeditionary force of june 1830 had got no more than three horse squadrons, big conception mistake from command.
So very quickly french army comes to the decision of native volunteers enlistment in order to form the horse units which were grievously missing. And that is how, as soon as 1831, are created the horse units of “ Chasseurs Algériens ” (Algerian Chasseurs) which will give birth in november same year of 1831 to the “ Chasseurs d’Afrique “ two regiments of which are composed by squadrons totally french and squadrons totally indigenous. This cohabitation is difficult to get on with, therefore, ten years later, in december 1841, the Chasseurs d’Afrique are completely europeanized.
In the meantime other native horse units are utilized as separeted units. They are composed by volunteers coming mainly from the Regency influential families. With an oriental equipment they are commanded by officers and non-commissioned officers mostly french. A 1833 report notes that : “ they give great satisfaction to french command. Discipline has not suffered and these units, always in the advanced guard, have each time done very good and very loyal turns... The natives are tough nuts, not easily tired, sober in their food. They are good tirailleurs, skilful scouts, clever, audacious. They are definitely fitted to the cavalry service...”
These units form real troop units which are called “ Corps de Spahis Réguliers “ (the Unit of Regular Spahis). We don’t know exactly what is the origin of this name “ Spahis “. Some feel the influence of “ Cipahis ”, these horse units that France used in its trading posts in India. Others, linguits, find in this qualifying the root of the arabic word “ sbah ”, morning, arguing that these horsemen were early riser.
However, when in december 1841 the Chasseurs d’Afrique regiments are totally europeanized, their native squadrons are transfered to the troop units of Spahis. All these units brought together form the native cavalry of french army in Algeria and are named Spahis Squadrons. On july 21, 1845 these squadrons give birth to three Spahis Regiments.
Depending on the campaigns to which Spahis will take part, are created Algerian Spahis in 1841, Tunisian Spahis in 1882 and Moroccan Spahis in 1912.

The Algerian and Tunisian Spahis

Organized in twenty squadrons by the ordinance of december 7, 1841, the Spahis represent approximately 4.000 men geographically scattered, and this removes all their flexibility. In order to recover this cohesion a new ordinance of july 21, 1845 reorganizes militarily and administratively the Native Cavalry composed from now on by only one subdivision of arms, the Spahis troop unit. This troop unit is divided into three Spahis Regiments.
The Spahis take part to the conquest of Algeria as far as Sahara. They fight in Europe under the second Empire and in France during the 1870-1871 war of France against Prussia.
During the 1881-1882 campaign of Tunisia french command is faced with the eternal problem of its strength reinforcement in the concerned territory. The solution is easily found. It has been applied as soon as french troops have intervened in North Africa in 1830 : regular units are created from the native horse troops. So, as soon as 1882, in Tunisia are set up Tunisian Mixed Companies.
Their story is now comparable to the Tunisian Tirailleurs story as it has been explained pages 43-45 in chapter 232-A-2. It was only in the year 1921 that their regiments are officially named Régiments de Spahis Tunisiens ( R.S.T. ) There has been four R.S.T. in total. The last existing R.S.T. , which take part as soon as 1954 to the Algeria war, are disbanded when Tunisia gets its independence.
The uniform of Algerian and Tunisian Spahis is the famous Oriental dress that we have already discovered with the Zouaves and Tirailleurs. But to differentiate horsemen from infantrymen, the colour of the horsemen costume has been simply reversed in comparison with the infantrymen costume colour. The arab style baggy trousers, saghouel, of the Spahis is blue. Their bolero is madder. Remember that the bolero bottom of tunisain troops is blue.
The Spahis headdress is voluminous. It is composed by a rigid skullcap, called « Guennour « , covered with a white felt skullcap on which is placed a third skullcap, red. Upon this all is put the scarf or “ haïk “, made with wool and silk, ended by fringed. A 10 meters long rope made with camel hair keeps fast, when rolled, the haïk upon the internal skullcaps. The scarf parts which are showing surround the head back and disappear inside the clothes collar.
Nevertheless the principal characteristic of the Spahis uniform are the burnous. Actually, upon this oriental dress that we have just described, the Spahi slipped on two burnous the main of which was a madder cloth burnous as long as the back length. A second burnous made with white flannel was worn inside the first one and was pulled on the uniform front.
They are those burnous which will make the distinction between Moroccan Spahis and Algerian-Tunisian Spahis

The Moroccan Spahis

After Tunisia the Spahis fight in Morocco as soon as 1912. Immediately the requirement of native strength to be maintained on the spot pushes french command to create horse units locally recruited. Are organized as soons as this year 1912 “ Moroccan Spahis Auxiliary Squadrons “. Two years later, in 1914, France which goes to war against Germany and which is going to sink deep into the XXth century first world war concentrates on its national territory all the forces it can have at its disposal, even those that it had formed out of France. Moroccan Spahis, as well as Moroccan Tirailleurs, are sent to Europe. Their units are then brought together within a “ Régiment de Marche de Spahis Marocains “ (Moroccan Spahis Walk Regiment).
Like it has been done for Tunisian Spahis, it was only in year 1921 that the Moroccan Regiments are called “ Moroccan Spahis Regiments “.
At the end of first world war Moroccan Spahis fight in the Balkans. Between the two world wars they serve in Morocco ans in the Levant. They take part to the defense of the french national territory and to its liberation during the 1939-1945 second world war. They finish their existence at the end of the two wars of Indochina ( 1945-1954 ) and Algeria ( 1954-1962 ). After Morocco independance proclaimed in 1956, they are progressively disbanded from 1962 to 1965.
Nevertheless the 1rst Moroccan Spahis Regiment has been maintained in the french army composition from 1965 up to now in o rder to perpetrate the traditions of the whole subdivision of arms.
Moroccan Spahis uniform, same as Moroccan Tirailleurs uniform, is distinguishable from the Algerian-Tunisan one by several points. Main differences relate, as we have note it with the Moroccan Tirailleurs, to the headdress and to the tunic.
The uniform has got the oriental style with baggy trousers, saghouel, sky blue coloured. The Moroccan Spahi wears, not a bolero, but a short jacket made with madder cloth which finishes just a little bit under the waist, closed in the front up to the collar by seven copper buttons, the collar being turned-down.
His headdress is voluminous, made basically by a chechia rather high having the shape of a bishop’s mitre which means flattened on the top. This chechia is totally covered with a white scarf having small pleats alternately beige, white and dark green.
Same as Algerian-Tunisian Spahis the Moroccan Spahi slips on two burnous one upon the other above his uniform. But his basic burnous is made with a navy blue cloth when the second burnous, shorter, made in white flannel, is worn inside the first one and turned-down on the front of the uniform.
We could not finish this chapter related to the moroccan troops without evoking the prestigious epic of the specific troop unit formed by the Moroccan Tabors-Goumiers.

The Moroccan Tabors-Goumiers



When it intervenes in Morocco in july 1907 France meets with the necessity of getting in touch with the local populations in order to preserve and to reinforce the authority of the moroccan leaders who felt that this intervention will result in a lasting civil peace waited for a long time. Like in Algeria, like in Tunisia, french command calls on native volunteers services and creates in november 1908 light auxiliary units which are named “ Moroccan Mixed Goums .
Their mission consists in informing the command and, eventually, in supporting the moves and the columns of operating regular troops. Each goum, the size of a company, is composed by 150 walking goumiers and 50 horsemen, therefore they are called “ Mixed “. The goumier supplies his own food and the food of his horse which belongs to him. His clothes and his gear are very simple : a rough wool djellaba with vertical stripes for the infantrymen, a burnous for the horsemen. When the mission is static, he can live, if he wants, with his family.
When general Lyautey arrives in april 1912 as the general resident of France in Morocco the Goums mission is associated without any restriction to the moroccan uniformity improvement thanks to a general pacification and to the whole country development. At the beginning the Goumiers were recruited among the arabs from North Morocco. Then the recruiting will extend among the berber tribes from the three Atlas and from the Rif who give themselves litterally to the french after having set against them a fierce resistance. These Goumiers have the particularity to attach themselves to their french bosses, exemplary leaders of men, they will follow faithfully on all the warpaths, with a climate of full and mutual friendship.
By successive leaps their action will cover all the maroccan tribes still dissident so far as to realize in the 1930 years the country unity and to give it the opportunity to open on the external modern world.
One year after second world war breaks out, their status of auxiliary forces makes easier how to hide from germans their strength and their armament reinforcing as well as their training. Duped by this stratagem the germans accept the Moroccan Goumiers existence in return for the regular forces reduction in AFN - Afrique Française du Nord - ( French North Africa ). They insist on the Goums loosing their character of combat forces in order to be tranformed into militias destined to ensure the police in Morocco. More than hundred Goums are maintained like this in the form of maghzens – police forces – which are brought together into Tabors ( the size of a battalion, each of them ) on the basis of three or four Goums in a Tabor. Continuing their military training, not one of the Goumiers betrayed.
For the first time, at the 1942 year end, Goumiers will serve out of the moroccan national territory to take part in the Tunisia Campaign where they create a sensation because they prove there that they are excellent mountain troops. After that they liberate Sicilia, Corsica, then Italia and at least France before they penetrate in 1945 into Germany and Austria. The second world war end surprises them upon the Danube.
Moroccan Goumiers finish their existence by taking part in the two wars of Indochina ( 1945-1954 ) and Algeria ( 1954-1962 ). When the independence of Morocco has been proclaimed in 1956 a big goobye ceremony is organized at N’Kheïla, close to Rabat, where the Goums have been transfered to the moroccan army. During nearly half a century these soldiers ( in fact auxiliaries ) cover themselves in glory on about ten different theatres of operations.
Though they have fought with autonomous units, the size of a battalion for the Tabors and the size of a company for the Goums. This is also one of the Saharian troops units characteristics.

The Saharian Troops



Meharist 1935


French army has landed at Sidi-Ferruch in june 1830 without any clearly defined policy concerning the guiding principle when they are established on this north of Africa coast. In 1840, after much hesitation, french command decides to undertake the systematic conquest of Algeria.
Twenty years were necessary in order to install in these vaste areas which were in a state of constant agitation, a lasting and durable peace. Algeria total pacification is completed in july 1857 when surrenders the last resistance center of Great Kabylia.
In the meantime it was also requisite to ensure security of the caravans moving between Algeria and the oasis and to stop the agitators come from Sahara in order to excite the north tribes. French troops entered also down the south. They have undertaken an expedition on Laghouat of which they take possession in december 1852. Very qhickly, without any new large-scale operation, thanks to a native policy well carried out, all south Algeria pacification was an accomplished fact at the beginning of year 1854.
Sahara doors open onto the unknown.
Except some timid penetration attempts undertaken by the Roman, not any foreigner had dared to venture into this vaste sandy desert which is Sahara. At the end of XIXth century, that is to say half a century after the french landing on Algeria coasts, the organization and the logistic backup of french army encourage the french soldiers and scientists to explore this desert. Several expeditions try to cross the Sahara. Most of them end in a failure, or even in a disaster like the Flatters Mission massacre in 1881. This lack of success must be explained by the fact that the means used by the command are malajusted to the live and the moves in desert region.
These expeditions are runned by the Algerian Tirailleurs ans Spahis who assume the guard of the forward posts built during these missions. Coming from Tell, these indigenous endure with difficulty the saharian climate harshness. The Spahis horses don’t behave better. So, when in the 1890 years, french troops take back their penetration into the south and build posts arround the first conquested oasis, the command is pushed to set up units adapted to the country where they have to operate. Are recruited, this is not new, natives, coming from these regions, used to the climate, knowing the local places, customs, habits and resources.
A law of december 5, 1894 creates a Saharian Tirailleurs corps and another corps of Saharian Spahis. These two units are supplied with dromedaries. As an exemple, each Saharian Spahi has got two mounts, mehara ( in the singular : mehari ) which belong to him. Each mehari is registered. The Saharian Tirailleur or Spahi is an indefatigable walker, scrupulous observer of the terrain, expert tracker, precious guide, vigilant guard. He has got a deep idea of the dromedary. He is allowed to bring with him his family in the forts, which is a guaranty of faithfulness.
A too much military dress doesn’t suit his kind of live and some arrangements are necessary, but the uniformity is respected. The Saharian soldier is equiped with a white gandoura ( long linen blouse ) which covers large trousers, saghouel, made with blue linen. He encircles his waist with a large red flannel waistband arround which he wears a red leather cartridge belt interlaced on his chest in order to be fastened behind his back. He puts on a red and very hard chechia hidden by a very long white or black scarf rolled up around all his face. If he lives usually barefooted, he occasionally wears light sandals made with saharian leather, called “ naïls “. In order to protect himself against heat and cold, he uses a thick white and black burnous that he slips on also when he wears his dress uniform.
The successful experience of these saharian units, which are disbanded at the beginning of XXth century, will leads in august 1908 to the creation of five Meharist Companies the designation of which depends on their geographical establishment ( ex : Souf Meharist Company, Tassili Meharist Company, etc... ) This organization will last untill the evacuation of saharian territories by the french army in 1962. Of course the number of saharian units will be increased with the passing years. In addition to the Meharists are formed Saharian Companies on meharaback and infantrymen Saharian Companies. With mechanization are created Carried Saharian Companies.
The mission of the Saharian Companies consists at the beginning in exploring the Sahara by recording the country topography and by drawing up geographic maps. They are in charge to pacify this territory by founding a reliable peace which stops the rezzou ( raids with spoils capture ), old habit of the nomads who got like this, without spending a penny, a stock of miscellaneous goods, more particularly human, in the sub-saharian black ethnic groups. Once peace is established in these large desert regions, Saharian Companies are in charge to carry out missions of reconnaissance, areas supervision, borders surveillance, and liaisons.
But also and above all, they were entrusted with the task of relationship establishments as close as possible with nomads in order to know them better, and to help them in their administration : constituting and follow up of a civil status, medical and legal cover.
There were up to 80 saharian units : 9 Meharist Companies, 47 Saharian Companies and 24 Saharian Goums. Each of them is geographically situated, which means autonomous. All these units have never exceeded the size of a company. They operate only in saharian areas and will never intervene out of this territory. Because they were mounted on dromaderies and then carried in motorized vehicles, saharian companies are considered as cavalry units and have got only one standard of which they share charge each other by turns.
They are not the only units which stood localized in a well delimited geographic area. Other very specific units such as the “ Affaires Indigènes “ – A.I. (Native Affairs), because of their particular mission, will be maintained, them too, on the only North Africa territory

See also  
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