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Thursday, 23 August, 2001, 15:23 GMT 16:23 UK
Life as a paratrooper
2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment
Paratroopers wear distinctive maroon berets
British paratroopers are among the toughest and most highly trained soldiers in the world.

After a gruelling six month training period, during which they undergo basic military and intensive paratroop training, new recruits become fully qualified to join one of The Parachute Regiment's three operational battalions.

It is the regiment's 2nd Battalion (2 Para) which has now been deployed to lead Nato's international force in Macedonia.

Nearly 700 troops from 2 Para will form the backbone of Operation Harvest - a 30-day Nato mission to oversee the collection of weapons from ethnic Albanian rebels.

The battalion became part of 16 Air Assault Brigade - the British Army's newest rapid deployment force - in September 1999.

It is on constant 72-hour alert to deploy to any potential trouble-spot anywhere in the world.

Falklands campaign

British paratroopers, whose distinctive maroon berets make them easily recognisable, have been a strong presence in the world's military history since 1942.

In recent history, 2 Para has been heavily involved in operations in Northern Ireland, the Falkland Islands, Sierra Leone and Kosovo.

The battalion has spent more time in Northern Ireland over the past 30 years than any other infantry battalion in the Army.

But perhaps the most famous and recent campaign in which 2 Para's troops were involved occurred during the Falklands War.

On 26 May,1982, the battalion was ordered to seize Argentinean positions in the area of Goose Green.

During the early hours of 28 May, the troops attacked with artillery, with the support of Naval gunfire.

In the resulting intense battle, across an area with very little natural cover, they succeeded in defeating a well dug-in and equipped enemy far superior in numbers.

Many members of the battalion were killed and wounded during the mission.

Those who lost their lives included Commanding Officer Lt Col H Jones, who was subsequently awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously.

'Ready for anything'

2 Para, based in Colchester, is currently commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Chip Chapman, who served as a platoon commander in the Falklands campaign.

Since he took command in August 1999, his mission statement has been simply "to succeed in war".

The Parachute Regiment's motto is Utrinque Paratus, which means Ready for Anything.

Captain Peter Flynn, adjutant to the commanding officer of 2 Para, says it is a motto which is proudly upheld by the battalion's soldiers.

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