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RAF not good enough for SAS parachute training

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#1
So not remotely contentious then...? :D


RAF 'not good enough' for SAS parachute training
By Thomas Harding
(Filed: 01/04/2005)

The Special Air Service is to move its parachute training to the United States because it believes that the Royal Air Force no longer has the skills to train its soldiers in Britain.

SAS officers and the Parachute Regiment have accused the RAF of being more interested in preserving "jobs for the boys" than providing adequate parachute training for live operations, according to a leaked e-mail.

There are fears that combat parachute skills will be further eroded if plans go ahead for training to be contracted out to a civilian company.

Some senior Army officers have accused RAF officers of failing to understand the equipment and training requirements for specialised parachuting because they have no operational experience.

A Special Forces e-mail passed to The Telegraph, titled "What is going on with Britain's parachute training school?", said the SAS "in exasperation" had withdrawn from the RAF's High Altitude Low Opening (Halo) course to train with the US special forces at Fort Bragg. The SAS and members of the Paras' Pathfinders platoon use Halo as a highly-skilled method to drop behind enemy lines.

Matters came to a head when the SAS "had enough of asking for the course to be updated to prepare troopers more realistically for the hard business of jumping from 25,000 feet at night, with large operational loads, onto dark and unmarked drop zones".

This "shocked the RAF out of its complacency" and a new course was devised at the parachute training school in Brize Norton, Oxon. But, the e-mail said, RAF officers at the Parachute Department headquarters in High Wycombe "have not delivered the end product".

"Those in the know at Hereford [where the SAS is based] will tell you that this is because they do not understand the difficulties of jumping on to unmarked DZs [Drop Zones] at night because they have never done it."

While RAF officers talked about it, very few did "hard-core" parachuting familiar to the SAS's air troop. "Yet, those officers would be the first to try to bask in the reflected glory of the SAS, often implying they were some form of superior being as they 'taught the SAS'," the e-mail added.

Britain is unique in having its parachute training controlled by officers from a branch with no operational experience, the RAF, to train the Paras, Royal Marines and SAS. While the NCO instructors "are well respected as pure parachutists" the Army has bitterly complained that not enough thought is given to teaching operational skills.

There appeared to be some movement towards allowing Army instructors in when Wg Cdr Nigel Gorman, the parachute school's head, supported the proposal.

But at High Wycombe "this was seen as a threat to the whole business of jobs for the boys", the e-mail said.

Wg Cdr Gorman, who the e-mail called "a breath of fresh air for the operational community", is now facing a disciplinary tribunal on bullying and corruption charges made by colleagues last December.

A source at the Ministry of Defence's Directorate of Air Operations said a five-year study had recommended to the director of Special Forces and the Parachute Regiment's commander that more instructors were needed from "an operational background".

A senior Parachute Regiment officer criticised the "flat earth society" in the RAF who did not want change.

"They want more time training themselves than those who are doing a job in the front line," he said. "They are not providing us with the right sort of training."

An MoD spokesman said all the parachute courses were under constant evaluation to ensure that they met the correct standards.

"The Parachute Training School works very closely with all users to develop appropriate and tailor-made courses," she added.

While there were no immediate plans to introduce instructors from the Army or Royal Navy, "suitably qualified instructors could be considered in the future".

It is also believed that training could be privatised with a contract going to Serco, a civilian company.

The MoD said there were no plans to involve external contractors or "civilianise" RAF instructors.
 
#3
Wg Cdr Gorman, who the e-mail called "a breath of fresh air for the operational community", is now facing a disciplinary tribunal on bullying and corruption charges made by colleagues last December.
sounds like Wg Cdr Gorman is getting his own back :twisted: I wonder who leaked it?
 
#4
If jump training is 'civilianised' then it will be ex pji types plus any 'expert' scrabbling to do the training at vastly inflated cost to you and i, the taxpayer.
 
#6
From a civilian perspective, military parachute training is a glaring example of inter-service chronic waste and poor organisation:

Soldiers commute from location A to airfield B (often half-way across the country), to link up with PJIs from location C, who are in fact from a different service. Aircraft arrive (or not) from location D. Parachutes come from a packing depot at location E. All aboard, and eventually the paratroops get to jump onto a DZ at location F, which is manned by a DZ party who have travelled from locations A to E and more. Jump successfully concluded, all return to their various locations. If its a bit blowy, theres something good on TV or the a/c has gone t*ts up, then all have completely wasted training days and hundreds of litres of fuel for nothing.

Er, and just how do the RAF justify the para training of RAF Regt personnel and other non- "in-role" hangers on?!
 
#8
Er, and just how do the RAF justify the para training of RAF Regt personnel and other non- "in-role" hangers on?!
Easy WWII comes along and only the RAF\RFC has been using parachutes until then. They get to train all of tha army parachutists as well as all of the aircrew during WWII. They hung onto this role even though the RAF was scaled down to a degree where that army had far more personel requiring parachute training. I supposes a bit of the old 'It's our planes you're jumping out of so we get to tell you how to do it'. It's very much up there with 'You can't carry your weapon on the plane. I don't care if you are going to a war!'.
 
#9
This subject has always mystified me.

Where else would you get on the job training from someone who has the technical skills, but has never had the chance to or theexperience of applying them in their intended environment?

Surely the most logical thing would be to set up a para school where the instructors were timeserved 'jumpers' with the experience of actually jumping out of a plane in a tactical situation, rather than just because they can?
 
#10
Surely not!! The Crabs looking after themselves again? Now there's a thing.

It's time the War Office and the Government faced reality and unravelled the light blue empire, got rid of the huge self serving admin tail, and merge the tiny remaining functioning bit with Teeny Weeny Airways. There are thousands of 'land crabs' to every Biggles lookalike. The whole organisation is no more than a self-licking lollipop, and should become a service arm not an armed service!
 
#11
Without revealing too much - I've working on a quote for a British Milittary computer system at the French Parachute School - Ecoles de Troupes Aeroportees (ETAP). Its new name is going to be Ecoles de Troupes Aeroportees EUDF (European Union Defence Force)
 
#12
Surely the most logical thing would be to set up a para school where the instructors were timeserved 'jumpers' with the experience of actually jumping out of a plane in a tactical situation, rather than just because they can?
That sounds too sensible to be acted upon. RAF parachute jump instructors have a brevet (a wing or two wings with a motif worn on the left breast) that they guard jealously. Cynical? Moi? 8O
 
#13
ETAP - presumably still at Pau and run by French ARMY instructors worked very well churning our strap hangers/freefallers/instructors for the French Commandos Marine/Foreign Legion/Army. Only input as far as I could see by the French Airforce was to fly the planes. Do they still do a Estrange' free fall course down there?
 
#15
Further to my last missive......I'd rather jump into the Pyrenees than onto Salisbury Plain...........and lots of vino - even in the ration packs in my day!
 
#16
exile1 said:
Further to my last missive......I'd rather jump into the Pyrenees than onto Salisbury Plain...........and lots of vino - even in the ration packs in my day!
Ah, the old two waterbottle routine, one for water and one for wine. They may have their faults, but the French are very civilised, and you're right, I'd rather jump over the Pyrenees than Salisbury plain, or Fort Bragg for that matter.
 
E

error_unknown

Guest
#17
The odd thing is that no RAF person is ever likely to make more than 1 'operational' descent, because after they've punched out at high speed they aren't likely to be able to fly operationally again - not in the near future anyway. And how much technique do you need to know to be fired out of a plane in a rocket powered ejector seat and then land under an automatically deployed canopy? Chunter chunter, rant rant.

Can't say this surprises me at all, though to be honest, it would be interesting to know how many op HALO jumps SF see themselves making in the future.
 
#18
chickenpunk said:
The odd thing is that no RAF person is ever likely to make more than 1 'operational' descent, because after they've punched out at high speed they aren't likely to be able to fly operationally again - not in the near future anyway. And how much technique do you need to know to be fired out of a plane in a rocket powered ejector seat and then land under an automatically deployed canopy? Chunter chunter, rant rant.

Can't say this surprises me at all, though to be honest, it would be interesting to know how many op HALO jumps SF see themselves making in the future.
Yeh, its all a bit old hat. HAHO is the way, the truth, and the light! :wink:
 
#19
Hope the Army can get this sorted soon. If we leave it too long then the top job will be held by a Crab and we all know what will happen ...
The self licking lollypop is only going to get bigger and jobs for the boys (as long as they wear nasty light blue uniforms!)

:idea: Of course the best way to solve the problem is :idea:
1. All Helicopters under Joint Heli force (already happening)
2. All ground air defence with the Gunners
3. Troop movement to/from exercises and ops by Virgin Airways
4. Tactical flying under the control of the Royal Navy
5. cargo and transport to the RLC

So who needs the RAF, except if you want to guareentee to be late on leave but early on teh way back :p
 
#20
chickenpunk said:
The odd thing is that no RAF person is ever likely to make more than 1 'operational' descent,
There was always the mad Herc Sqn Ldr who bailed out the back with the SAS over Sierra Leone a couple of years ago and left his co-pilot on the flight deck to get the ship back. Doesn't he count?
 
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