Parachute Regiment (India)


Parachute Regiment (India)

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= Parachute Regiment


caption=The Parachute Regiment
dates= 1945 - Present
country= India
allegiance=
branch= Army
type= Parachute infantry
role=Airborne Infantry//Special Forces
size=10 Battalions
command_structure=
garrison=Bangalore, Karnataka
garrison_label=Regimental Centre
equipment=
equipment_label=
nickname="The Paras"
patron=
motto= "Shatrujeet (The Conqueror)"
colors=
colors_label=
march=
mascot=
battles=
anniversaries=
decorations= 3 Ashoka Chakras, 10 Maha Vir Chakras, 6 Kirti Chakras, 2 Uttam Yudh Seva Medals, 3 Ati Vishisht Seva Medals, 47 Vir Chakras, 25 Shaurya Chakras, 98 Sena Medals, 4 Bar to Sena Medals, 11 Yudh Seva Medals and 8 Vishisht Seva Medals
battle_honours=Post Independence Shelatang, Naushera, Poonch, Jhanger, Hajipir, Poongli Bridge, Mandhol, and Chachro
current_commander=
current_commander_label=
ceremonial_chief=
ceremonial_chief_label=
colonel_of_the_regiment=Lt Gen HS Lidder, UYSM, YSM, VSM, ADC
colonel_of_the_regiment_label=
notable_commanders= Lt Gen IS Gill, PVSM, AVSM, MC, Lt Gen RS Dayal, PVSM, MVC, ADC, Lt Gen Sagat Singh, Padma Bhushan, PVSM.
identification_symbol=An open parachute with wings spread out and a dagger placed upright, between the wings.
identification_symbol_label=Regimental Insignia
identification_symbol_2=
identification_symbol_2_label=
The Parachute Regiment is the main airborne formation of the Indian Army.

History

The first Indian airborne formation was the "50 Independent Parachute Brigade" raised on 29th October 1941 with 151 British, 152 Indian, and 153 Gurkha Parachute Battalions and other support units. Lt AG Rangaraj of the Indian Medical Service and the RMO of the 152 Indian Para Bn, became the first Indian along with Hav Maj Mathura Singh to perform a parachute jump. Less the British battalion (which was transferred to Britain and renamed the 156th Para Bn and formed part of the 4th Parachute Brigade of the 1st Airborne Division), the brigade with two battalions (the 154th Gurkha Para Bn, which had replaced the 151st British Para Bn and was still lagging behind in air training, was left behind to catch up on it) saw extensive action during World War 2 at Sangshak and later in the Imphal Plains on the Burma border against two reinforced advancing Japanese divisions. During the battle, which lasted six days, the brigade suffered extremely heavy casualties totalling 40 officers and VCOs and 545 other ranks, winning the appreciation of Lt-Gen William Slim, the commander of British Fourteenth Army. The breakout on the night of 26th March, 1944 saw the remanants of the proud parachute brigade fight its way south and then east through the Japanese-infested jungles to Imphal. But it achieved its task of keeping the outflanking Japanese forces from surrounding Imphal and destroying the 4th Corps. Despite the losses it suffered in Sangshak, the paratroopers continued to participate in actions to destroy Japanese forces near and around Imphal till its withdrawal in July end.

Later in 1944, the brigade was expanded to form the 44th Indian Airborne Division as the original 9th Airborne Division was to be named because the 44th Armoured Division whose services were no longer required in the Middle East theatre of war was to be converted to airborne. The 44th Indian Airborne Division was finally designated the 2nd Indian Airborne Division in 1945. The Indian Parachute Regiment was established as the regiment to which its Indian and Gurkha parachute battalions would belong - 152nd Indian Parachute Bn being split to form the 1st Parachute Bn consisting of Hindu troops and the Muslims troops forming the 4th Para Bn, while 153rd and 154th Gurkha Para Bns being renamed the 2nd and 3rd Bns respectively. Four independent parachute companies were also raised to complete the regiment, one each as a defence company for the divisional HQ and the brigade HQs and named thus.

The regiment's first airborne action was towards the end of the Second World War, when a reinforced Gurkha Parachute Bn was parachuted into Burma at Elephant Point on May 1, 1945, as part of Operation Dracula. The Bn performed well earning the respect of all, including the critics of airborne warfare. Despite the performance, the Indian Parachute Regiment was disbanded in late 1945 as part of the restructuring of the postwar British Indian Army.

Independence and Kashmir Operations

On Independence in 1947, the airborne division was divided between the Indian Army and the army of the newly formed Pakistan, with India retaining the Divisional HQ and the 50th and the 77th Parachute Brigades and the 14 Parachute Brigade (converted from the 14th Airlanding Brigade going to Pakistan. The 77th Indian Parachute Brigade was disbanded and the 50th Bde, comprising battalions each from the 2nd Punjab Regiment, Marathra Light Infantry and Kumaon Regiment, continuing to wear the uniform of their parent regiments except for a change in headgear which was changed to the maroon beret, the crown of the airborne worldwide and to distinguish them from the other battalions of their regiments, the word 'PARA' was added after the numericals. The three battalions saw extensive action in the war in Kashmir and won a battle honour each in their respective sectors. The brigade commander, Brig. Mohd. Usman, was killed in action on July 3, 1948, and awarded the Mahavir Chakra posthomously.

60 Parachute Field Ambulance as part of the 50 Para Bde also saw action in Kashmir where it raised and maintained the now famous Cariappa Hospital catering to the needs of numerous units in its vicinity (27 Indian Army and State Forces battalions along with other units) and constantly facing shortages due to the war situation and inclement weather conditions. The unit's performance like other units of the parachute brigade was beyond all expectations and resulted in the awarding of numerous gallantary awards.

60 Parachute Field Ambulance and the Korean War

With the communist invasion of South Korea in 1949, the UN sent out a call to the free world for assistance and received huge response. India being a peace-loving country decided not to get involved militarily contributed a medical unit, the 60 Parachute Field Ambulance which served in Korea for a total of three and a half years, the longest UN tenure by any army unit anywhere. The unit was involved in providing medical cover to the forces of the UN Command as well as the ROK Army, local civilians. The unit also looked after the North Korean POWs. The highlight of the tenure undoubtedly was when the unit provided their services during Operation Tomahawk in March 1951 to the US Army’s 187 Airborne Regimental Combat Team for which the unit was awarded two MVCs, one bar to VrC, six VrCs and a host of other decorations.

Raising of The Parachute Regiment

In April 1952, these battalions were rebadged as the new Parachute Regiment along with its own depot and records and were taken away from their parent regiments. The units were rebadged with the new insignia of the Parachute Regiment and a new formation sign "Shatrujit" replaced the Pegasus (with India on the lower half).

The 4th Battalion was raised in 1961 as the need was felt to increase the strength of the Regiment.

After the Chinese debacle of 1962 when the need to have a larger army was felt, the Parachute Regiment too had its share of expansion with the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th battalions being raised in a span of two years. A second parachute brigade, the 51st, was also raised to compliment the 50th Brigade.

Meghdoot Force and the raising of the Para-Commandoes

In the 1965 war, a small band of volunteers under a Guards officer, Maj Megh Singh, performed feats which necessiated it to be formed into a special operations unit. Originally to be part of the Brigade of the Guards, but because parachute qualification being an essential part of commando training, the unit was transferred to the Parachute Regiment and raised as the 9th Battalion (Commando), The Parachute Regiment on July 1, 1966. On July 1, 1967, the battalion was split into two and both brought up to strength as the 9th and the 10th Para Commando Battalions. In 1978, 1st Para Bn, was designated as the third commando battalion. On 1st February, 1996, 21st Battalion, the Maratha Light Infantry was officially redesignated as the 21st Battalion (Special Forces) though it was under conversion for the past two years.

In 1999, 2 Para Bn was also converted to Special Forces followed a few years later by the 3rd Bn and the 4th Bn.

1971 War

In 1971, the Regiment saw numerous actions both in the Eastern and Western theatres. For the first time in the annals of independent India's history, a Parachute Battalion Group (2 PARA Bn Group) was paradropped at Tangail, which contributed substantially to speeding up the liberation of Bangladesh. Elements of the 2nd Battalion became the first Indian unit into Dhaka. The Para Commandos proved their professional skills by conducting spectacular lightning raids into Chachro (Sindh, Pakistan) and Mandhol (Jammu and Kashmir). The Regiment earned battle honours Poongli Bridge, Chachro, Mandhol and Defence of Poonch during these operations.

1980 - Present

Operation Pawan

"Main Article: Indian Peace Keeping Force"

Five Parachute battalions (including 3 Para Commando battalions) took part in Operation Pawan (Sri Lanka).

Operation Cactus

"Main Article: Operation Cactus"

With 6 PARA in the lead 50 (Independent) Parachute Brigade took part in Operation Cactus in November 1988, the first successful overseas intervention operation to aid the duly elected government of Maldives.

Counter Insurgency

Parachute battalions employed in the Counter Insurgency role, both in North East and J&K, have performed commendably, earning fifteen COAS Unit Citations. In these operations, the Ashok Chakra, nations highest gallantry award in peace, has been awarded posthumously to Capt Arun Jasrotia, SM (1996), Major Sudhir Kumar Walia, SM * (2000) and Ptr Sanjog Chhetri (2003). Their unit, 9 PARA (SF) has been conferred the "Bravest of the Brave" honour in 2001.

Operation Vijay

"Main Article:Kargil War"

In 1999, nine out of ten Parachute battalions were deployed for OP Vijay in Kargil, which bears testimony to the operational profile of the Regiment. While elements of the Parachute Brigade cleared the Mushkoh Valley intrustions, 5 PARA was actively involved in the forgotten sector Batalik, where it exhibited great courage and tenacity, and was awarded the COAS Unit Citation.

United Nations Operations

Calls of international peacekeeping have taken Parachute units to Korea (1953-54), Gaza (1956-58) and UNAMSIL,Sierra Lone (2000). The last was a daring rescue mission conducted by the 2 PARA (SF). The Parachute battalions have also served in Congo and Ethiopia/Eritrea apart from individual officers serving in staff or as observers with the United Nations.

Outside the battlefield, the Parachute regiments has also accomplished major featues. The late Capt (later Col Retd) AS Cheema, SM was the first Indian atop Mount Everest (1965), while Maj SS Shekhawat, SC, VSM scaled the peak thrice (2001,2003 & 2005) apart from scaling peaks in the French Alps and in Africa, and Maj Abhijeet Singh, SM (2003).

trength

The regiment has a total of ten regular and two territorial battalions; of the regular bns, three are standard parachute infantry battalions, while the seven are commando trained battalions. Formerly designated as "commando" units, they are now designated as special forces:
*1st Battalion (Special Forces) - ex 1st Battalion, 2nd Punjab Regiment Raised 1761, conversion to Special Forces 1978
*2nd Battalion (Special Forces) - ex 3rd Battalion, Maratha Light Infantry raised 1768, conversion to special forces 2000
*3rd Battalion (Special Forces) - ex 1st Battalion, Kumaon Regiment raised 1788, conversion to special forces 2001
*4th Battalion (Special Forces) raised 1961, conversion to special forces 2004
*5th Battalion
*6th Battalion
*7th Battalion
*9th Battalion (Special Forces) raised 1966 as special forces, earlier as irregular force known as 'Meghdoot Force' and served in the 1965 Indo-Pak War, Operation Riddle
*10th Battalion (Special Forces) raised 1967 as special forces
*21st Battalion (Special Forces) - ex 21st Battalion, Maratha Light Infantry raised 1985, conversion to special forces 1996

Three of the Special Forces battalions were originally trained for use in certain environments; 1st bn- [strategic reserve] , 9th Bn- [mountain] and 10th Bn- [desert] and the 21st bn- [jungle] . Currently all Special Forces battalions are cross trained for all environments.

The missing 8th Battalion became 16th Battalion, Mahar Regiment in 1976 before transferring as the 12th Battalion, Mechanised Infantry Regiment. A sizable part of the battalion was retained in the airborne role, forming the armour element of the 50th (Independent) Parachute Brigade and is equipped with their BMP2 Infantry Combat Vehicles.

The 50th (Independent) Parachute Brigade comprises two parachute battalions, one special forces battalion, 60 Parachute Field Ambulance, 411 Parachute Field Company (Bombay Sappers), 622 Parachute Composite Company ASC, 50th (Independent) Parachute Brigade OFP (Ordnance), 50th (Independent) Parachute Brigade Signal Company, 2 (Independent) Parachute Field Workshop Company, 1 parachute field regiments (Artillery)(9 & 17 parachute field regiments), provost section, an air defence battery. The President's Body Guard also forms part of the brigade as the pathfinder company.

The three parachute battalions in rotation form part of the parachute brigade alternatingly serving their field tenures in counter-insurgency/high altitude areas. One of the seven SF battalions too serves in the brigade on rotation. One of the two field regiments (9 Para Fd Regt and 17 Para Fd Regt) also forms part of the brigade while the other serves out its field tenure on rotation.

Two Territorial Army battalions, 106th (Bangalore) and 116th (Deolali) also form part of the Parachute Regiment. They form the elite part of the Terriers (as the Territorial Army is popularly known) and presently involved in COIN operations.

Last, but not the least, 31st Battalion (Commando), Rashtriya Rifles, is also affiliated to the Parachute Regiment, for special operations conducted by the counter-insurgency force.

Regimental Details

*Regimental Centre: Bangalore with the training establishment at Agra. Recruit training is imparted at Bangalore whereas parachute training is imparted at Agra jointly with the Paratroopers Training School of the Air Force.
*Regimental Insignia: An open parachute with wings spread out and a dagger placed upright, between the wings. The badge was designed by Capt (later Lt. Gen) ML Tuli in 1951. The other badge, called the Balidan (Sacrifice) shown on the right, is worn on the right chest and is the commando qualification badge and used by the seven Parachute (Special Forces) Battalions.Also worn by the special forces personnel are cloth patches on both the upper shoulders in maroon with light blue borders and "SPECIAL FORCES" inscribed in light blue.Formation sign: A light blue Shatrujit (the Indian version of the Belerophone) half horse and half man with wings and a bow and arrow in ready position, signifying the operational readiness of the brigade, on a maroon background.

See also

*Para Commandos
*Indian Army
*Military of India

External links

* [http://www.indianparachuteregiment.kar.nic.in/ Official website of the Parachute Regiment]
* [http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/LAND-FORCES/Army/Regiments/Parachute.html Paras on Bharat-Rakshak]


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