French Colonial Forces

French Colonial Forces

French Colonial Forces

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The French Colonial Forces () was a general designation for the military forces that garrisoned in the French colonial empire from the late 17th century until 1960. They were recruited from mainland France or from the colonials and the natives of the French colonial empire. This force played a substantial part in the conquest of the empire, in both World Wars as well as in the First Indochina War.

Makeup of French Colonial Forces

The Armée coloniale did not include the famous North African regiments such as the Foreign Legion, Zouaves, Spahis, Algerian Tirailleurs (sharpshooters) and Goumiers, all of which were part of the Army of Africa, a part of the French Metropolitan Army. Instead the "Troupes Coloniale" can be divided into:
  1. French long service volunteers (or colonial settlers doing their military service) assigned to service in France itself or as garrisons in French West and Central Africa, Madagascar, New Caledonia or Indochina; and
  2. Indigenous troops recruited in any of the above, serving under French officers. These were designated as Tirailleurs sénégalais, Tirailleurs malgaches, Tirailleurs indochinois, etc. according to the name of the colony of origin. Tirailleurs sénégalais was the name given to all West and Central African regiments, since Senegal had been the first French colony south of the Sahara.

The troupes coloniales were predominantly infantry but included artillery units as well as the usual support services. At various dates they...
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