Klaim & Djaf: Interview With Videographer & Former Member of France’s Gendarmerie

    (Clément Richard)

    This article was written by Albert L. and originally published over on TFB’s sister site, OvertDefense.com. Check out OVD for the latest defense news and updates.

    Clément Richard is a 23 year old videographer with an interesting background. A veteran of France’s Gendarmerie he was part of the Surveillance and Intervention Platoon with specialization in weapons, shooting, combat and various sports. He also spent one and a half years with the Specialized Mobile Unit, where he specialized in building investigation and house arrests.

    (Clément Richard)

    His time with the Gendarmerie saw him work with France’s elite GIGN on several missions in France and overseas and as a group leader with the French Foreign Legion on a mission during Operation HARPIE in the Amazon. Now he’s launched a new project, a YouTube channel under the name Klaim & Djaf. The channel brings together Clément’s love of shooting and operational tactics with his passion for videography.

    Overt Defense: What drove you to join the PSIG?

    Clément Richard: The PSIG is a very interesting unit to start in the intervention environment. It allows you to deepen your knowledge of firearms, combat sports and professional intervention techniques while taking your first steps on risky interventions.
    The small number of personnel in this type of unit allows you to feel close to your comrades and to advance together during the different missions. These missions are varied and all very interesting.

    OVD: Are you able to say how many of your deployments were in Metropolitan France instead of Overseas France?

    Clément: It is quite difficult to give a figure on the number of trips I have made in France. I had the chance to maintain order during demonstrations in Paris, Lyon or Montpellier. I also had the possibility of making many transfers of prisoners a little everywhere in France.
    As far as overseas is concerned, my only mission was in Guyana in the Amazonian forest.

    OVD: What did you find to be your most memorable experience from your time in the unit?

    Clément: In the Gendarmerie, many missions stay in your mind because they are very often unique.
    The fact that I was in the Amazon forest with the French Foreign Legion was a crazy experience. Humanly and professionally, I only remember the good.
    Otherwise, being able to save lives or help people is always something memorable. One day, a man wrote a message to his wife saying that he wanted to “go” to the most beautiful place. With the information we gathered, we found the place where this man wanted to commit suicide. A cliff of a hundred meters high. So we drove very fast and then ran in the snow for several kilometers. Every minute counted. Thanks to my physical condition, I was the first to arrive at the place where the suicidal man was. I managed to hold him by the jacket before he jumped. We then had to give him first aid until the arrival of the mountain platoon accompanied by the dog handler and the helicopter.

    OVD: What was it like to work with the French Foreign Legion in the Amazon?

    Clément: Honestly, it was the best experience of my life. The French Foreign Legion personnel are respectful, hardworking and always interested in any mission.
    The objective in the forest was to find gold digger camps in order to destroy them and arrest the people on these camps. Despite the high risk of these missions I always felt in confidence with these men.

    OVD: Did the Legionnaires have any issues with unit leadership while you were working with them?

    Clément: No, not at all. Despite my young age, they were always very obedient to every order I could give. Respect is something that is very important to them, even more so if you are a Gendarme.

    (Clément Richard)

    OVD: Did you notice any changes in unit and service culture before and after the start of Operation Sentinelle (the joint military, police and gendarme anti-terrorism operation in place since the January 2015 terror attacks)?

    Clément: Of course. After the attacks or the events we had in France, the whole Gendarmerie has been reorganized. New articles on the use of weapons have been published, and new anti-terrorism instructions have been put in place. And it is a very good thing because it is necessary to be prepared for each eventuality.

    OVD: How did you decide it was time to do something else?

    Clément: In my last unit I didn’t really feel useful anymore and the whole missions were very repetitive. I wasn’t really enjoying what I was doing anymore. I then thought about continuing to do things that I like such as shooting, sports, combat and intervention techniques without being in the Gendarmerie.

    OVD: So what drew you to videography?

    Clément: Videography is a perfect way to convey emotions and put a smile on people’s faces who might be watching what I do. The hours of editing and capturing images are things to be done in a serious way in order to “shock” the eye of the viewer. Besides, being a Youtuber is a dream job for me. Making videos that I love, with people I admire on subjects that I master: the dream.

    (Clément Richard)

    OVD: How did you decide that this is what you wanted to do professionally?

    Clément: It was just a general feeling. I knew I was good at it so why not give it a try? You have to believe in yourself sometimes I think and I would have probably regretted not trying something that I was really drawn to.

    OVD: What are some of your cinematographic influences?

    Clément: I watch a lot of war movies like what you can see on all the streaming platforms (e.g. Tyler Rake/Extraction on Netflix), but otherwise on Youtube I’m of course a big fan of TRex Arms and Achilles Tactics or even Cercle de Tir de Wissous in France for the advice it brings.
    Otherwise a lot of people on Instagram do a great job like Khimaira Strategy for example. I really advise checking out what he’s doing.

    OVD: How much conscious effort do you make to ensure nothing teachable appears in the videos?

    Clément: We don’t have the legitimacy like some instructors to teach what we know to others on video. We certainly don’t want to. The world of training is very interesting but for the moment it is not our domain. We just want to make beautiful videos. The idea is to give people the desire to be interested in the world of tactical shooting or the army in general, all with a smile, always with a smile.

    OVD: What requirements does the gendarmerie have regarding your video productions, in addition to the blurring of faces of active duty gendarmes?

    Clément: For the moment I blur all the faces, so there is no risk. But if one day the Gendarmerie agrees to collaborate with us on certain video productions then I will do as they wish.

    Thanks to Clément for discussing his experiences with the Gendarmerie. Its extremely interesting to get some first hand insight into how the Gendarmerie’s Surveillance and Intervention Platoon operates. Check out Clément’s Instagram and Klaim & Djaf YouTube channel for a look at his work.

    Matthew Moss


    TheFirearmBlog.com – Managing Editor
    OvertDefense.com – Managing Editor

    Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written several books and for a variety of publications in both the US and UK. He also runs Historical Firearms, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of The Armourer’s Bench, a video series on historically significant small arms.

    Here on TFB he covers product and current military small arms news.

    Reach Matt at: [email protected]