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Unit 16 Air Assault Brigade

16th Air Assault Brigade was formed in September 1999 from an amalgamation of 5 Airborne Brigade and 24th Air Mobile Brigade, bringing together a capable and rapidly deployable force, able to operate across  a wide spectrum of conflict.

By 2001 all three parachute battalions were included within the 16 Air Assault order of battle.

Elements of the Brigade, including deployed to Sierra Leone in May and September 2000. The first Brigade deployment with 2 PARA was on Operation BESSEMER, helping to implement the Ohio Agreement with a multi-national force of 15 nations under command, to disarm Albanian rebels. In early 2002 the Brigade led the 2 PARA Group that entered Kabul as part of the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) to Afghanistan.

In February 2003 16 Brigade deployed with 5,500 soldiers to Iraq for the second Gulf War, including the 1 and 3 PARA  Battle Groups. They crossed into Iraq in March to secure the Rumaylah and West Qurnah oilfields, pushing north of Basra to Al Qurnah and the Maysan Province.

The first major Operation HERRICK 4 deployment to Helmand Province with the 3 PARA  Battle Group in southern Afghanistan took place in 2006. Some 500 contacts were fought during a very intense six month tour that included the blooding of the new Apache Attack Helicopters. Hundreds of Taliban insurgents were killed but at a cost of 14 dead and 45 wounded within the Battle Group. Cpl Bryan Budd was awarded a posthumous VC and Cpl Mark Wright a posthumous GC.

In Spring 2008 the Brigade returned for another hard fought tour in Helmand during HERRICK 8. The 2 PARA Battle Group operated from five forward bases in the Green Zone of the Upper Sangin Valley while the 3 PARA Group operated as the Regional Battle Group (South).  The Brigade returned in the Autumn.

Order of Battle:

See the Paradata Order of Battle Chart for unit details.     

Brigade Commanders

Brig PA Wall OBE 1998-2000
Brig BWB White-Spurner 2000-02
Brig JD Page OBE 2002-04
Brig EA Butler DSO MBE 2004-06
Brig Carleton-Smith 2006-08
Brig J Chiswell CBE MC 2008-2011
Brig G Hill 2011-

by Paradata Editor

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