2001 - 2012
Reformed within a redesigned 16th Air Assault Brigade, parachute battalions were obliged to enact their Utrinque Paratus – ‘Ready for Anything’ motto becoming involved in new security operations in evolving and uncertain operational theatres in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Afghanistan (Operation Fingal)
After 11 September, and much political and military indecision, 2 PARA and supporting elements from 16 Air Assault Brigade started to deploy to Afghanistan on 30 December on Op FINGAL, as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Unfortunately the deployment, via Oman, took over a month due to the limitations on the use of Bagram airfield, and the final chalk did not arrive in Kabul until 11 February 2002.
Iraq (Operation Telic)
This was the first time the brigade had deployed complete on an operation since its inception in September 1999. Within days of the invasion of Iraq, 1 and 3 PARA with the air-mobile 1 Royal Irish battle group had occupied and secured the Rumaylah oilfields to the south; and started to move north, with the US Marine Corps to their west, to secure the Main supply Route (MSR) that runs north to Basra on Route 6. Meanwhile 7 PARA RHA had fired its first regimental fire missions since Suez in 1956.
Afghanistan (Operation Herrick IV)
‘Hot spot’ battle areas were around the towns of Now Zad, Musa Qala, Sangin and Gereshk. Fighting might last six to eight hours with paratroopers operating with 70lbs of ‘fighting order’ in temperatures of up to 50 degrees centigrade.
Afghanistan (Operation Herrick VIII)
2 PARA operated as Battle Group North operating from five Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) in the Upper Sangin Valley. These were situated in the area of the ‘Green Zone’ fertile farmland stretching one kilometre either side of the Helmand River. They operated in temperatures of over 40 degrees centigrade, in humid conditions, scrambling across ditches and streams that irrigate the area, carrying 60lb equipment weights on patrol and wearing body armour.
Afghanistan (Operation Herrick XIII)
To mark the change, which signified the start of Operation HERRICK 13, a 'friendship feast' was held at the headquarters of the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Lashkar Gah, which was attended by Afghan and British dignitaries. The event was attended by the Governor of Helmand province, Gulab Mangal, the Deputy Commander of 3/215 Brigade of the Afghan National Army, Colonel Amin Jhan, and the Helmand Chief of Police.
Afghanistan (Op Herrick XIV)
After a 6 month tour 16 Air Assault Brigade handed control of Task Force Helmand to the Royal Marines.
This was epitomised by the handover at Patrol Base Shazad, where responsibility for the Nad-e-Ali North District was transferred from 3 PARA to 42 Commando, Royal Marines. The flag of 3 PARA was lowered and the flag of 42 Cdo raised over the base to mark the arrival of the Royal Marines and the official start of their tour.
Lt Col James Coates, Commanding Officer 3 PARA said:
Macedonia (Operation Bessemer)
HQ 16 Air Asslt Bde became HQ Task Force Harvest with a multinational force of 15 nations under command. Their mission was to deploy to collect and dispose of NLA weapons and ammunition in order to restore stability in the FYROM.
Sierra Leone Raid
A Company Group 1 PARA on Spearhead stand-by at the end of August 2000 were warned off to support an SAS operation in Sierra Leone to release British soldiers held hostage by a rebel band called the West Side Boys. They were in Theatre one week after the initial call.Read More
Truck Utility Medium (Heavy Duty)
The Pinzgauer 716M Truck Utility Medium (Heavy Duty) – TUM(HD) – performs a variety of roles for Airborne Forces, from carrying stores, acting as command and communications vehicles and gun tractors for the 105mm Light Gun. Stripped down versions have been used by the Pathfinder Platoon for Recce work, particularly on Operation Herrick IV in Afghanistan in 2006.Read More