Paratroopers have demonstrated the firepower that they could parachute in with during combat missions as the British Army’s global response force.
As the culmination of a course in support weapons skills, paratroopers staged a firepower demonstration on Salisbury Plain. A fast-moving scenario saw the soldiers tasked to defend a drop zone that they had just parachuted onto against an advancing force of armoured vehicles. The enemy was engaged and defeated with Javelin and NLAW anti-tank missiles, 81mm mortar, Grenade Machine Guns, Heavy Machine Guns and General Purpose Machine Guns. Paratroopers opened fire from both ground positions and while moving in RWMIK patrol vehicles.
The five-week-long Support Weapons Cadres trained soldiers from Colchester-based 2nd and 3rd Battalions The Parachute Regiment to serve in their unit’s specialist Machine gun, Mortar and Anti-tanks platoons. By day and night, paratroopers were taught the practical skills to fire and maintain weapons in the field and how to use them in different tactical scenarios.
The cadre was run by Major Max Wright. “Within a battalion, the heavier weapons grouped in Support Company provide the firepower that enables the rifle companies to manoeuvre and win the battle,” he said. “To be a good Support Company soldier you need physical and mental robustness and an ability to work independently. You need to be able to make decisions and act on your own initiative in a way which will best benefit the battalion.
To be a good Support Company soldier you need physical and mental robustness and an ability to work independently. You need to be able to make decisions and act on your own initiative in a way which will best benefit the battalion." Major Max Wright
“This course is about taking junior paratroopers from the rifle companies and making them better soldiers, by building on their existing skills and making them specialists on these weapons.”
As part of 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team, 2 and 3 PARA’s role is to alternate as lead infantry battlegroup in the Air Assault Task Force (AATF), which is held ready to deploy at short notice anywhere in the world by air to conduct the full range of military operations.
Maj Wright, who commands 3 PARA’s Support Company, said: “Every weapon system that we use can be broken down and parachuted in, either on the man or in a door bundle, to be set up on the drop zone within minutes of landing. We can carry the weapons on foot and our vehicles would follow later, either by helicopter or airlanding, to give us additional mobility.
“At the end of the cadre, these paratroopers will be ready to parachute in and provide the full range of firepower wherever and however it’s required to achieve the mission.”