FRIDAY FOTO (July 15, 2011)
Copyright Ministère de la Défense
This is one of the more arresting images from the Bastille Day 2011 parade in Paris this week. July 14 marks the storming of the Bastille, a notorious prison in Paris, sparking the French Revolution in 1789. Every year on that date, there is an enormous military parade in Paris with Foreign Legionnaires in their white kepis and red and green epaulettes, sabre-brandishing cavalry of the Republican Guard in plumed helmets, sailors in white caps topped by red pompoms, pilots in flightsuits and all manner of military cadets, national police and speciality troops like those pictured above.
There is usually one or more contingents of foreign troops, invited to participate by the French government to the Bastille Day parade. In 2002, cadets from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point joined the parade, along with New York City firefighters, survivors of the 9/11 attacks on the Word Trade Center.
We assume the troopers above — in camouflage paint and carrying assault rifles — are Special Forces or commandos of some type but unfortunately the photo slideshow on the French Ministry of Defense website doesn’t come with captions (Quel dommage!). If anyone can identify this unit, please let us know in the comment box below or send us an email at:
Update: Apparently this is a unit of French Air Force Parachute Commandos, known as Commandos Parachutistes de l’Air. See the comment below. You can learn more about them at this website:
To see more official photos of the the pageantry click here.
For some absolutely spectacular Reuters photos of the event — with captions — click here.