The making of Saudi paratroopers

source:  Saudi Gazette online

By Abdulrahman Al-Shumrani

SAUDI-YEMENI BORDER – Saudi paratroopers taking part in clashes at the southern border against armed infiltrators are highly prepared for the combat zone, said Lt. Gen. Prince Fahd Bin Turki Bin Abdul Aziz, Commander of Paratroopers and Special Forces at the Saudi Armed Land Forces.

The paratroopers have undergone intensive training and drills to carry out the most sophisticated military operations, including all manner of war techniques in different weather and geographical conditions, he said.
However, the type of battle being waged against the infiltrators has not required air insertion so far, he said.
Saudi paratroopers from all the Saudi military services were the first to report to the battlefield following the armed infiltration of rebels from Yemen in November last year, he said.

The Saudi Paratroopers Service was established in 1954 and dispatched its members abroad for training at that time, he said. When the first batch graduated a year later, a full-fledged paratroop unit was started in Jeddah. The unit was later moved to Yanbu before it was finally positioned at a larger base in Tabuk, the Prince added.

Saudi paratroopers were first introduced to the battlefield during the 1973 war when Egypt and Syria launched a concerted military attack on Israel. The Saudis took part in the war from their positions in Syria and Jordan, he said.

The second battleground for the paratroopers was during the purification of the Grand Mosque in Makkah from an armed attack and takeover in 1979 by terrorists, after failed peace negotiations, Prince Fahd added.
A little over a decade later, Saudi paratroopers engaged in the second Gulf War to liberate Kuwait from the Iraqi invaders. They were also tasked with safeguarding Iraqi refugee camps in the Saudi town of Rafah.
In 1992, the paratroopers joined the peacekeeping operations aimed at ending the civil war raging in Somalia and secured delivery of Saudi humanitarian aid.

Following the third Gulf War when the US invaded Iraq in 2003, the Saudi paratroopers were tasked with securing a field hospital set up by the Kingdom to provide help to displaced Iraqis.

The service of Saudi paratroopers went beyond military combat, Prince Fahd added, citing rescue operations when huge floods hit Al-Olya, southwest of the Kingdom, in 1987. 

In 2005, a new paratroop leadership was created for more powerful and expanded military service including recruitment, training, and development.

At the training center of paratroopers at the Military Base in Tabuk, the making of a Saudi paratrooper is a challenging task in which the trainee goes through intensive training sessions to be physically and mentally fit for hard battlefield conditions. The training includes tactics for dropping behind enemy lines from the air, anti-terrorism drills and precise targeting of the enemy, Prince Fahd said. Trainees are also faced with realistic simulations of what actually happens during a mission.

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