NOVEMBER 3, 2013
In the first decades of the 20th century, rapid technology development had been greatly affecting the military strategy. Along with the development of aviation industry, an extensive use of aircrafts of various purposes was enabled within the military operations, being also a necessary prerequisite for a development and execution of an idea to organize and use a new type of infantry units, which could have been deployed by air in a short period of time and conduct tasks and actions.
Experiences in the trench warfare from the First World War clearly showed that last-century offensive tactics had not offered a suitable method for fast trench defensive systems penetrations, deducted in death toll. Therefore, for the first time during the WWI (1914-1918) suggestions on the organization and activation of airborne troops within military operations emerged. Winston Churchill was among the representatives as well, who had been proposing in 1917 that parachutists could be used for operations within the territory controlled by Nazi Germany. Also, many US military officers were emphasizing that soldiers could be trained relatively quickly to conduct aircraft parachute jumps, land deeply into the enemy territory and assist the main land forces in advancing. 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, Peru and other countries.
An extensive use of the airborne troops within the military operations is related to the combat operations during the WWII. Tactical justification for this practice is present even today (in an altered form) and, among the other things, refers to the possibility to deploy airborne troops by air very quickly, so they can enter the combat, or execute other tactical tasks, which could be of a great advantage (yet very risky) if operating above the territory controlled by the enemy. Parachutists can take ground positions by fast aerial insertion 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, low-volume and intensity special operations, not for broader, more extensive operations. In addition, parachutists can be used for supplying the background friendly forces, as well as in search and rescue missions in locations where, due to the terrain configuration or other conditions, advance of the ground forces is hampered. Mass insertions by air in modern warfare are seldom conducted, comparing to the low-scale ones (usually at the level of several parachute groups or teams), primarily because there are no so many extensive, international conflicts in the world nowadays. 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 aerial insertions, and within those, the largest part of the training curriculum is related to the basic and specialist parachute training. On the other hand, there are elite military and police units that have specialist parachute groups or teams within the operational elements, along with others, such as anti-terrorist, diving, EOD, close protection groups and the like. Parachute training at the units of this type is only a segment of the defined operators` training plans and programs, thus can be mandatory for them all, or just for the members of those groups. The rank of a parachutist is attained, as a rule, through a successful completion of the basic parachute training, carried out in a particular unit, while the tag of a parachuting specialist is earned after a certain number of successful jumps, along with a completion of special courses in this field of training.
When it comes to the personnel insertions, from a theoretical point of view, a difference can be made between the insertions in the strict sense, which include parachute jumps, out of an aircraft. In a broader sense, personnel insertion involves actions that are conducted by using different kinds of ropes, from different types of aircrafts, mostly out of transport or attack helicopters. The last ones are also considered as third dimension actions.
Insertion execution is greatly affected by the ongoing climate conditions, but these circumstances have significantly less impact due to the aircrafts and parachute gear improvements. The volume of the specific insertion is double-caused: by the type and objective(s) of the operation, or the task in which the insertion is being executed, as well as by the type and capacity of the used aircraft. The type and the objective(s) of the operation or task primarily affect the gear loadout of a parachutist, their personal weaponry and supplies.
Gear configuration depends on the predetermined jumping height, as well as the parachute opening height, whether the jumps are conducted in day or night conditions, rural or urban environment and the like. Parachutists personal weaponry, as a rule, includes an automatic rifle, or a submachine gun as primary, and a handgun as secondary. It is very important that those are reliable models, relatively low in weight and compact in size. The weaponry set is usually completed with a knife. In order to achieve high mobility during aerial insertions and ground operations, 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.