|The Parachute Infantry
Parachute Infantry is specialised infantry that is transported by aircraft and parachute dropped or air-landed and moved by MPVs to conduct motorised operations. The parachute infantry has, over and above the normal characteristics of the motorised infantry, the following characteristics:
- Airborne assault operations can be executed by dropping personnel and equipment by parachute.
- Objectives within the radius of action of transport aircraft can be occupied quickly despite terrain obstacles.
- The short reaction time and wide choice of air routes ensure that security can be maintained and surprise achieved.
- A parachute force can threaten a wide front of objectives during day and night. This disrupts the planning and deployment of enemy forces.
- The aggressiveness and fighting ability of the parachute soldier can have an adverse effect on enemy morale.
The Parabats were elite airborne soldiers in the South African Defence Force. During the SWA/Namibian border war, the Bats (short for Parabats) took part in several cross border operations into Angola and provided airborne Fireforce back-up to counter insurgency units on the ground. The esprit de corps in this unit is legendary.
44 Parachute Brigade
44 Parachute Brigade was a parachute infantry brigade of the South African Army. It was founded on 20 April 1978,:5 following the disbandment of 1 SA Corps. Upon formation, the brigade was commanded by Brigadier M. J. du Plessis, who was assigned the task of establishing the unit with the assistance of the Parachute Staff Officer, Colonel Jan Breytenbach. At the time du Plessis was the commanding officer of the Orange Free State Command (OFS Cmd) and had previous experience serving in 1 Parachute Battalion. Breytenbach had also been a member of 1 Parachute Battalion and had also founded the South African Special Forces Brigade and 32 Battalion. The location that was chosen for the brigade's headquarters was in the lines of the OFS Cmd Headquarters, next to the old Tempe Airfield in Bloemfontein.
The brigade's units initially consisted of two Citizen Force units, 2 and 3 Parachute Battalions, that were manned by paratroopers who had completed their initial national service in 1 Parachute Battalion. Shortly after formation, it was realised that these two battalions, being infantry units only, were not capable of providing an effective and balanced force for conventional operations. An all-arms formation with an airborne capability was needed, and as a result, later on the brigade was expanded with various arms including engineering, artillery, signals, anti-aircraft, anti-tank, and maintenance and workshops units.
The brigade remained in existence until 1999 when it was reduced in size and re-designated 44 Parachute Regiment. Prior to this, 44 Parachute Brigade undertook a number of operations in Angola during the South African Border War as well as counter insurgency operations inside South Africa.