Parachuting About Parachute Training and Gear

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Date: 14th July 2013 | administrator

Widespread usage of airborne troops to conduct combat operations was firstly occurring during the WWII. Monitoring events abroad and considering local needs, Yugoslav political and military leaders...>>

Date: 03rd Nov 2013 | administrator

Modern military and police units, as a rule, are intended to execute the most complex tactical tasks and actions in all conditions, so the basic assumption to this is the rationally defined unit`s organization...>>

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Members of the Parachute Group of the Counter Terrorist Unit Photo: TROE Production

Operators of the 63rd Parachute Battalion of the Special Brigade of the Serbian Army Photo: D. Ostojić

An US Navy SEAL operator during the parachute training Photo: Jeff Thomas

Operators of the US Green Berets during HALO specialistic parachute course Photo: Jeff Thomas

In the first decades of the 20th century, rapid technology development was greatly affecting military strategy. Along with the development of aviation industry an extensive usage of aircrafts of various purposes was enabled within military operations, which was also a necessary prerequisite for the development and execution of an idea of new type of infantry units which could be deployed by air in a short period of time and conduct tasks and actions..

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Experiences of the trench warfare[1] from the First World War clearly showed that last-century attacking tactics did not offer a suitable method for quickly breaching trench defensive systems and with fewer casualties. Therefore, for the first time during the WWI (1914-1918) suggestions on the organization and activation of airborne troops within military operations were declared. Among the representatives was Winston Churchill as well, who in 1917 was proposing that parachutists could be used for actions within the territory controlled by Nazi Germany. Also, many US military officers[2] emphasized that soldiers could relatively quickly be trained for conducting parachute jumps from aircrafts, land deeply into the enemy territory and assist the advancing main land forces. However, significant development of the military parachuting began during the thirties, when the first military parachuting camps were organized in the USA, Britain, Germany, Russia, Japan, France[3], Peru and other countries.

An extensive usage of the airborne troops within the military operations is related to the combat operations during the WWII[4] and tactical validity for this practice is current even today (in the altered form) and, among the other things, refers to the possibility to deploy airborne troops very quickly by air, so they can join the combat, or execute other tactical tasks[5], which can be of a great advantage (yet very risky) if conducting above the territory controlled by the enemy. By fast air insertion parachutists can take ground positions in a short period of time and cause confusion (especially if the effect of surprise is achieved) in the enemy`s defense and thus aid to the advancing friendly forces to gain an advantage. Therefore, airborne troops are the most suitable for executing quick special actions, not for longer, more extensive operations. In addition, parachutists can be used to carry out supplying of the background friendly forces, as well as in rescue actions in places where, due to the terrain configuration or other conditions, advance of the ground forces is hampered.


Photo: Bardanet Jarame

Mass insertions by air[6] in modern warfare are conducted seldom, comparing to the small-scale ones (usually at the level of several parachute groups or teams), primarily because there are no extensive, international conflicts in the world. In other words, insertions by air are mostly executed within special operations.

Considering the organization and purpose criteria, it is possible to distinguish classical airborne units (mostly military ones) of different sizes, whose primary purpose involves tasks conducted by insertions by air, and within whose the largest part of the plan and program of training is related to the basic and specialistic parachute training. On the other hand there are elite military and police units that within the operational elements have specialized parachute groups or teams, but also other groups and teams, such as anti-terrorist, diving, EOD, close protection groups and the like. Parachute training in the units of this type is only a segment of defined plans and programs of training of operators, thus can be mandatory for all of them[7], or just for the members of groups. Title of a parachutist is obtained, as a rule, by successful realization of the basic parachute training carried out in a particular unit, while the tag of a parachuting specialist is gained after a certain number of successful jumps, along with completion of specialized courses in this field of training.

When it comes to the personnel insertions, from a theoretical point of view differ can be made between the insertions in the strict sense, which includes jumps by using parachute systems, from an aircraft. In a broader sense, personnel insertion includes actions that are conducted by using different ropes, from other types of aircrafts, mostly from transport or combat helicopters. The last ones are also considered as actions of the third dimension.

Insertion conducting is greatly affected by the ongoing climate conditions, but these circumstances have significantly less impact due to the improvement of aircrafts, as well as parachute gear. The volume of the concrete insertion is double-caused: by the type and the objective (s) of the operation or the task within which the insertion is executed, as well as by the type and capacity of the aircraft used for insertion. The type and the objective (s) of an operation or a task primarily affects the gear configuration of a parachutist, personal weaponry and supplies.


Photo: Jeremy Lock

Gear configuration depends on the predetermined jumping height, as well as the parachute opening height[8], then whether the jumps are conducted in day or night conditions, rural or urban environment and the like. Personal weaponry of parachutists, as a rule, is an assault rifle/carbine or a submachine gun[9] as primary, and a handgun as secondary. It is very important that these are reliable models, relatively low in weight and of compact sizes. The weaponry is usually completed with a knife. In order to achieve high mobility during insertions and ground actions respectively parachutists, as a rule, do not carry significant personal supplies, therefore their field independence, especially in a conflict environment is reduced. Thus, survival training is very important element of the individual and group training of every parachutist.

[1] Trench or position warfare is related to the fortifying positions of the opposing sides in trench systems, or connected canals in the ground. These fortified systems were defended by soldiers with the background artillery support. Positions of the opposing sides were often divided by a corridor, an open space, or no-man`s land on which soldiers were conducting a charge. The main characteristic of this type of warfare was related to the great casualties, often to win a few hundred meters thousands of soldiers were dying.
[2] For instance, Brigadier General Billy Michel, Major Lewis Brereton and others.
[3] France was the first country in the world to allow women to join airborne units.
[4] For instance, air insertions of the Nazi airborne units within the invasions of Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, then a well-known insertion within the Battle of Crete, where Nazi parachutists won a significant victory, but with huge casualties, prompting Hitler to forbid the further usage of airborne troops in operations of this kind. As part of Allied Operations are known insertions such as the one within the Torch Operation in North Africa, the one on Sicily, the one within the Invasion in Normandy and to mention the insertion with devastating ending within the Operation Market Garden.
[5] Tactical tasks parachutist can execute independently or in cooperation with other friendly forces.
[6] Due to the improvements of aircrafts and parachute systems as well, gear desanting as well as military tech is very common today. However, these actions cannot be considered as parachuting, primarily because it involves personnel desanting.
[7] In that case, as a rule, it involves only basic parachute training.
[8] In relation with that are types of parachute jumps HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) and HAHO (High Altitude High Opening).
[9] Personal Defence Weapon-PDW.

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