Formation of 5 Airborne Brigade

On the 14th November 1983, 5 Infantry Brigade was re-designated 5th Airborne Brigade, re-introducing an airborne formation once again into the British Army’s order of battle.

It came under command of the 3rd (UK) division one of two divisions forming part of the Allied Command Europe (ACE) Rapid Reaction Corps, for employment with NATO. The Brigade’s secondary role was conducting Out of Area (i.e. outside Europe) operations.

The new brigade fielded two Parachute Battalions with a number of parachute Arms and Services, including: 7 Parachute Regiment RHA, 9 Parachute Squadron RE, 23 Parachute Field Ambulance RAMC, 216 Parachute Signals squadron and the 5 Airborne Brigade Logistics Battalion.

Two air-mobile (helicopter-borne) infantry battalions (one of them Gurkha) were included and an armoured reconnaissance regiment provided by the Household Cavalry, some of which were parachute trained. On operational deployments these units could be inserted via Tactical Air-Land Operations (TALO) from RAF Hercules C-130 transport aircraft.

In 1985 the Pathfinder Platoon was established as the Brigade’s Advance Force on the lines of the former 16th Brigade Guards Parachute Company. They were trained and equipped for pathfinder skills utilising HALO (High Altitude Low-Opening) tactical free-fall parachute techniques and operated in four-man patrols with all the requisite specialist skills.

In 1994 the Logistics Battalion of the Brigade deployed to Rwanda on Operation GABRIEL. The Headquarters deployed operationally for the first time in Kosovo in 1999.

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