March 11, 2013
Britain has reduced the size of the parachute force on short notice to 80 men

From Mark Nicole, Mail on Sunday:  [C]ost cutting means the Paras will no longer be trained to use their chutes, the Mail on Sunday can reveal.

The regiment, whose most famous sortie during the Second World War was immortalised in the film A Bridge Too Far, has been targeted by Ministry of Defence accountants keen to reduce budgets.

Until now, all recruits joining the 1,500-strong regiment have undergone intensive parachute training, including a requirement to complete eight jumps before being considered ready for battle.

Soldiers have had to do at least two refresher jumps each year of their service to ensure that they remain fully trained for drops behind enemy lines.

Now, just a handful of recruits will receive parachute training and hundreds of more experienced Paratroopers will not do the annual jumps required to keep them battle-ready.

Former Parachute Regiment officer Dan Jarvis, now a Labour MP, revealed that parachuting is being phased out and in future most recruits will not see a chute or receive specialist airborne training. . . .

"Every year there used to be huge parachuting exercises with around 800 paratroopers jumping together."

"Now only 80 troops are jumping in these exercises. Parachute training is being phased out to nothing."

Lieutenant General Sir Hew Pike, who commanded 3 Para in the Falklands War added: ‘For as long as the government states that it wishes to retain a parachute capability they should bloody well pay for it. . . ."

MoD strategists point to the fact that the Parachute Regiment has not mounted a large-scale parachute drop for more than half a century. . . .

Last night an MoD spokesman admitted that the Army has reduced the size of the parachute force on short notice to 80 men.  (photo: Peter Russell/Sunday Times)

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