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SPECIAL AIR SERVICE (SAS)

This term, as used by the French, referred to “British paratrooper commandos” (commandos-parachutistes britanniques) with whom Free French forces trained and fought during World War II, mainly in Europe. Indeed, the English term “SAS” entered the French military vocabulary via French officers trained in SAS operations in Ringway in Great Britain in 1944–1945. After the war, French officers, notably Pierre Ponchardier and Jacques-Pâris de Bollardière, modeled the creation of their commando paratrooper teams for Indochina on the SAS model of World War II. Ponchardier’s unit was referred to as the SASB (B for battalion), while Bollardière created the Demi-Brigade SAS. Over time, during the Indochina War, the French SAS was incorporated into the Colonial Paratroopers (paras coloniaux). The French SAS disappeared in 1948.