|Was reading the Ottawa Citizen today and came across this article..
They make some point about likely hood of large airborne drops... but come on.. get rid of the airborne?
Parachute troops face extinction
Days of large-scale deployment of airborne units are over: report; Move would be a severe blow to army's morale
The Ottawa Citizen
Tuesday, May 21, 2021
They may have served with distinction in war zones from D-Day to Afghanistan, but Canada's paratroopers are going the way of the dodo.
A report prepared for senior military officials and obtained by the Citizen recommends eliminating the army's parachute capability. If acted upon, the move could be a severe blow to the morale of some soldiers who view parachuting as a symbol of combat-readiness and esprit de corps.
The study, produced 17 months ago, recommended cutting the parachute companies in units based in Edmonton, Petawawa and Valcartier, Que. It also called for the closing of the Canadian Parachute Centre in Trenton. Any remaining parachuting skills would be moved to the air force and kept only for search-and-rescue missions.
Army officials say no final decision has been made on what to do with the paratroopers. But Col. Howie Marsh, an adviser to army commander Lt.-Gen. Mike Jeffery, said the days of large-scale parachute drops of airborne troops are over.
"It is likely there would be insertion of small numbers of people by parachute, but the parachute-type company or the unit drop -- I don't think is going to survive in the future," said Col. Marsh, who is helping develop the army's strategy for the future.
Although the Canadian Airborne Regiment was disbanded in 1995 by the Liberal government during the aftermath of the Somalia mission, the military has retained a parachute capability in its three light infantry battalions. Paratroopers from Canadian Forces Base Edmonton were recently involved in the missions against Taliban and al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan, although they were transported by helicopter rather than parachuting into the area.
As well, the soldiers killed during the recent accidental bombing of Canadian troops in Afghanistan by a U.S. aircraft were paratroopers.
Brig.-Gen. Vince Kennedy said any decision on what to do with a parachute capability in the Canadian Forces will have to wait until after the government-ordered defence review is completed. That is expected to be finished by the fall.
As far as the army goes, parachuting will still be needed to insert troops onto battlefields, but whether that continues in the form of parachute companies in the light infantry battalions still has to be decided, Brig.-Gen. Kennedy said.
Last week the army announced it wants to expand the light infantry battalions in terms of numbers of soldiers, but it did not mention the parachute aspect of those units.
According to the report prepared for the Armed Forces Council, the Canadian military no longer has a requirement to drop large numbers of soldiers or equipment into war zones, and "the retention of a standing parachute capability is not essential."
The Armed Forces Council is made up of generals and is a key advisory group for the Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Ray Henault.
Another memo from the office of the military's director general of strategic planning argued that there is also no need to have even the capability to quickly retrain soldiers for a parachute role. "Since we do not feel we need a combat para capability, we also do not feel we need a way to re-generate it quickly -- any more than re-generating an aircraft carrier capability," according to the memo.
It costs the Canadian Forces around $16 million a year to keep its parachute capabilities. Shutting down the parachute companies in the light infantry battalions would save $6.6 million a year.
Retired Maj. Gen. Robert Stewart, a former member of the Canadian Airborne Regiment, said it would be a mistake to get rid of the paratroopers. "The savings are so minimal," he said. "It's peanuts compared to everything else you would get from it."
Although he acknowledged it is highly unlikely Canada would conduct airborne operations in the future, he said such units produce soldiers that are "a bit extra special." Airborne soldiers are mentally and physically tough as well as possessing an esprit de corps and a "can do" attitude, said Mr. Stewart.
He noted that most armies in the world still maintain parachute units, likely for those very reasons. During the Falklands War and during a recent rescue mission in Sierra Leone, Britain sent paratroopers to do the job, Mr. Stewart added.
The military report acknowledged that parachuting is a "morale issue" for the army and could help in retaining and recruiting soldiers.
But retired army colonel Doug Bland said the army doesn't have the extra money for paratroopers. "It is important to have high-readiness forces but they don't have to go by parachute," said Mr. Bland, chairman of the Defence Management Studies program at Queen's University.
Helicopters have become the mainstay of moving units around war zones.
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