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South African Armed Forces

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Brief Description

1 Parachute Battalion
1 Parachute Battalion (1 PARA) [Afr: 1 Valskermbataljon] was established on April 1, 1961 as a parachute training battalion, located next to the old Tempe Airfield in Bloemfontein. The unit's first operational mission came in August 1966 when they assisted police in an attack on a People's Liberation Army of Namibia base at Ongulumbashe in western Ovamboland. The unit would be involved in that theatre until the end of the border conflict in 1989. Heliborne fire forces were also used in Ovamboland. In April 1978 the battalion became part of 44 Parachute Brigade. With the eventual disbanding of 44 Parachute Brigade by 1991, the full-time personnel of the brigade were moved back to Bloemfontein and incorporated into what was then known as 1 Parachute Battalion Group.

1 Reconnaissance Regiment
1 Reconnaissance Regiment (1 Recce) [Afr: 1 Verkennings-regiment] was established as 1 Reconnaissance Commando at Oudtshoorn on 1 Oct 1972. This was the first Special Forces unit formally established in South Africa. In 1974, the Commando relocated to Durban. It was upgraded to regimentatl status and redesignated as 1 Reconnaissance Regiment on 1 Jan 1981, when it was placed under the command of the Special Forces HQ, directly under the command of the Chief of the SADF. Between 1991 and 1993, the SF HQ was replaced by the Directorate Reconnaissance, which was directly under the command of the Chief of the Army. In 1993 the Dir Recon became 45 Parachute Brigade due to an organisational change and all the units were renamed: 1 Recce Regt became 452 Parachute Battalion. The burgundy colours of 44 Para Bde were also adopted for 45 Para Bde. On 1 Sep 1995 the Regt was redesignated as 1 Special Forces Regiment, keeping the burgendy colours. Finally, on 1 Mar 1997, as part of the military rationalization process of the SANDF, 1 Special Forces Regt was disbanded and its personnel were incorporated into the other SF regiments.

1 SWA Parachute Battalion
1 South West African Parachute Battalion was formed as part of the South West African Territotry Force (SWATF) on 1 August 1980. In 1987, it was amalgamated with 1 SWA Reconnaissance Regiment and 32 Battalion's Reconnaissance Wing to form 2 SWA Specialist Unit

1 SWA Reconnaissance Regiment
1 South West African Reconnaissance Regiment (1 SWA RR) started out as a sub-unit under the command of the Commanding General SWATF in 1982, staffed mainly by ex-South African operators, but only formally established on 1 April 1984 when 32 Bn Recce Wing was disbanded by the 32 Bn OC Cmdt Eddie Viljoen. The Recce Wing members were given the option to return to 32 Bn's Buffalo base and be split up into the Companies or sign on to 1 SWA RR who took over the Omauni base. Most opted to join 1 SWA RR. The unit was made up of ex Reconnaissance commando members, some ex Rhodesian servicemen and ex 32 Bn Recce Wing members. The unit later moved its HQ to Omaruru a small mining town in central SWA and the HQ was at Kransberg mine which was a abandoned tungsten mine. The unit was disbanded and amalgamated with 1 SWA Parachute Battalion to become 2 SWA Spes Unit and relocated to Luiperdsvallei in Windhoek.

2 Parachute Battalion
2 Parachute Battalion (2 PARA) [Afr: 2 Valskernbataljon] was formed on 1 June 1971 to assimilate the growing number of parachute trained conscripts with further national service obligations. 1 Parachute Battalion was unable to cope with the additional administration, and 2 Para therefore comprised of Civilian Force members. 2 Parachute Battalion had its baptism of fire during Operation Savannah in 1975 and took part in Operation Reindeer in 1978.

2 SWA Specialist Unit
2 South West African Specialist Unit was formed on 1 January 1987 when 1 South West African Reconnaissance Regiment was amalgamated with 1 SWA Parachute Battalion and 32 Battalion's Reconnaissance Wing

3 Parachute Battalion
3 Parachute Battalion (3 PARA) [Afr: 3 Valskembataljon] was formed in July 1977 (the official establishment date is given as 1 Aug 1975) to assimilate the growing number of parachute trained conscripts with further national service obligations. 1 Parachute Battalion was unable to cope with the additional administration, and 2 and 3 Para therefore comprised of Civilian Force members. 3 Para participated in Operation Reindeer in 1978 and formed part of the newly formed 44 Parachute Brigade in 1978.

4 Parachute Battalion
In 1982 approval was obtained, in principle, for the establishment of 4 Parachute Battalion [Afr: 4 Valskembataljon] as part of 44 Parachute Brigade. No further information.

7 Medical Battalion Group
7 Medical Battalion Group was founded by a group of nine doctors at Special Forces Brigade HQ (Speskop) south of Pretoria in 1984, but the battalion was only named 7 Medical Battalion Group and incorporated into the SA Medical Services in 1987. Members were involved in clandestine operations working closely with Special Forces, the Parachute Battalions supporting UNITA and the infamous Project Coast. Members also worked with 32 Bn, Ops K, CSI and 101 RM's to name just a few...

14 Artillery Regiment
14 Field Regiment (14 FIELD) was re-established in Potchefstroom in 1974, and was a full-time unit responsible for the training of Permanent Force and National Service personnel. It took part in Operation Savannah and provided the first troop of 25-pounders. Involved in most operations of the Border War, it was renamed to 14 Artillery Regiment (14 ART) and organised under 10 Artillery Brigade in 1983. It comprised of a Regt HQ, 141 Battery, 142 Battery, 143 Battery, 2 Medium Battery. 144 Battery, and 32 Locating Battery. 141 Battery was the first airborne artillery battery allocated to 44 Parachute Brigade

18 Light Regiment
18 Light Regiment (18 LIGHT) is one of the more 'modern' artillery regiments that was created to cope with new warfare requirements. Its official birth date can be pinned down to January 1977 (its official establishment date is actually given as 1 Aug 1975). Its initial intake consisted of the Ops Savannah veterans of 141 Battery of 14 Field Regiment and 41 Battery of 4 Field Regiment. In June 1982, it was incorporated into the newly formed 44 Parachute Brigade based at Murray Hill north of Pretoria. It initially comprised of a Regt HQ, and 181 Battery

37 Field Workshop
37 Field Workshop was established in 1974 (but officially given as 1 Jun 1967), in Windhoek, SWA, as a CF 2nd-line workshop under control of the then SWA Command. In 1976, the unit was transferred without any personnel to Pretoria as a 2nd-line workshop under 1 SA Corps. Upon activation of 44 Parachute Brigade, the unit was placed under their command in 1984. The unit was the only technical services unit of 44 Parachute Brigade.

44 Anti-Aircraft Regiment
44 Anti-Aircraft Regiment (44 AA) was appointed and designated as a unit of the Citizen Force with effect from 1 January 1985 with its headquarters at Murrayhill (Hammanskraal). Their equipment, dropped before them, consisted of SAM 7 missiles and Russian 14.5 mm AA guns and they also had .50 Brownings mounted on Jakkals airborne 'mini-jeeps'. In 1988 an airborne operation was planned but never took place. Part of 44 Parachute Brigade.

44 Anti-Tank Company
Part of 44 Parachute Brigade

44 Maintenance Unit
44 Maintenance Unit was established as part of 44 Parachute Brigade on 13 Dec1985

44 Medical Task Group
44 Medical Task Group is a Satellite Unit of 7 Medical Battalion Group 7 Med Bn Gp consisting of a platoon size medical group consisting of Operational Medical Support Operators or Ops Medics. All qualified members of the Task Group are static line parachute qualified. Selected members are Freefall, HALO/HAHO and or Tandem parachute qualified enabling the Task Group to support the Parachute Battalions , Parachute School and Regiment in the full spectrum of requirements.

44 Parachute Brigade
44 Parachute Brigade was established at Bloemfontein on 20 April 1978 an all-arms formation of the SADF after the disbandment of 1 SA Corps. Other units were added including Engineering, Artillery, Signals, Anti-Air Craft, Workshop and Maintenance and Anti-Tank. In 1980 the Brigade moved its headquarters and constituent units to Pretoria and in September that year it was moved to Murrayhill near Wallmansthal.

44 Parachute Brigade HQ Unit
In 1980 44 Parachute Brigade moved its headquarters and constituent units to Pretoria for administrative and accommodation reasons. The Brigade HQ, however, was temporarily de-activated, and the post of SSO Parachute Operations was established under Director Operations at Army HQ. Colonel Breytenbach occupied this post, and was also responsible for the continued administration of the Brigade. On 24 September 1980 the Brigade HQ was re-activated with Breytenbach as un-appointed Officer Commanding and moved to the farm Haakdoringfontein at Murrayhill near Wallmansthal, some 35 kilometers north of Pretoria. This farm once belonged to Commandant General Piet Joubert of the old Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek, and the original stone farmhouse and outbuildings have been incorporated into the Brigade Headquarters. Murrayhill would serve as the home of 44 Parachute Brigade until the commencement of scaling down of operations and in 1991 Tempe (Bloemfontein) again became its Headquarters

44 Parachute Brigade Signal Unit
44 Parachute Brigade Signal Unit (or just 44 Signal Unit) was formed in April 1978 as 44 Signal Squadron (the official establishment date is given as 1 Jan 1979). During the time of 24 September 1980 until October 1986, it supported the Brigade in all aspects of signals; e.g., the supply of communication and the manning of a Communication Centrum (Comcen). In 1986 the Signal Unit was established as a full strength Signal Unit. The signal unit flag was authorized in 1986.

44 Parachute Engineer Regiment
44 Engineering Regiment was inaugurated as 44 Field Engineer Squadron on 20 April 1978, during the formation of 44 Parachute Brigade. The unit upgraded to an Engineer Regiment in 1990. Members took part in a number of operations: Reindeer (1978), Boulder (1979/80), Protea, Mispel, Daisy (1981), Fakkel, Meebos, Snoek, Gepetto (1982/83), Super (1982), Askari (1983/84), Moduler, Hooper, Packer (1987/88)

44 Parachute Field Workshop
44 Parachute Field Workshop was established as 37 Field Workshop in 1974 in Windhoek, SWA as a CF 2nd-line workshop under control of the then SWA Command. In 1976, the unit was transferred without any personnel to Pretoria as a 2nd-line workshop under 1 SA Corps. Upon activation of 44 Parachute Brigade, the unit was placed under their command in 1984. It is 44 Parachute Brigade's only technical services unit.

44 Pathfinder Company
44 Pathfinder Company was created In the early 1980s from British, American, and mainly Rhodesian professional soldiers recruited by Col Breytenbach into 44 Parachute Brigade to serve as a new fighting arms within 44 Parachute Brigade. They were at that time humorously referred to as "The Philistines". Their envisaged role was to conduct mobile, fighting patrols deep inside Angola.

44 Provost Platoon
The 44 Provost Platoon was part of 44 Parachute Brigade and provided both military police and operational support to the brigade as a whole.

45 Parachute Brigade
Established on 1 August 1993 to incorporate the three Reconnaissance Regiments as Parachute Battalions

101 Air Supply Unit
101 Air Supply Platoon (ASP) was established in 1963 at Pretoria but all training occurred at the Army Services School at Voortrekkerhoogte. The pallets and chain circle in the emblem allude to the airborne delivery of supplies and the logistic function of the unit. During May 1972, 101 and 102 ASP Platoons amalgamated as one company, namely 101 Air Supply Company (ASC). In 1978 it was incorporated into 44 Parachute Brigade when it was formed and the brigade relocated to Pretoria in 1980. It took part in operations in Angola from 1975 through 1989 including Operations Savannah, Bowler, Askari, Moduler, Hooper, Packer and Merlyn.

451 Parachute Battalion
Formerly 5 Reconnaissance Regiment, redesignated on 1 August 1993 and incorporated into the new 45 Parachute Brigade

452 Parachute Battalion
Formerly 1 Reconnaissance Regiment, redesignated on 1 August 1993 and incorporated into the new 45 Parachute Brigade

453 Parachute Battalion
Formerly 4 Reconnaissance Regiment, redesignated on 1 August 1993 and incorporated into the new 45 Parachute Brigade

BDF Parachute Battalion
The Bophuthatswana Defence Force Parachute Battalion had one parachute company (of more than normal strength) and two infantry companies.

Ciskei Parachute Battalion
Ciskei Parachute Battalion

Ciskei Special Forces
The Ciskei Special Forces was stationed at Bulembu, the core of a possible future parachute regiment.

One Military Area
The Bophuthatswana Defence Force One Military Area within which fell One Infantry Battalion (a COIN unit based at Molopo) and the BDF Parachute Battalion (at Lehuru Tshe). The Parachute Battalion had one parachute company (of more than normal strength) and two infantry companies. Originally, training for this battalion took place at One Parachute Battalion in Bloemfontein in 1989.

Parachute Training School
The 44 Brigade Parachute Training School was established in Bloemfontein as 1 Parachute Battalion, which is undoubtedly the home of the Parabat which is a South African Army paratrooper. The name is derived from the words "Parachute Battalion". The history of the Parabats started on 1 April 1961 with the formation of the Parachute Battalion. After 1998 it was renamed to Parachute Training Centre

Transkei Defence Force Air Wing
The TDF Air Wing [Afr: Transkei Weermag Lugvleuel] was made up of fixed wing and rotary wing companies, a defence company, parachute company, technical wing, headquarters and a fire section. It was situated at Umtata and commanded by a lieutenant-colonel. Aircraft comprised of one CASA 212 (originally two, but one was involved in an accident) and two BK 117 helicopters. On 27 April 1994, the air wings of the `independent' homelands of Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, Transkei and Venda were merged into the SAAF.




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