BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CDN AB REGT
On 8 April, the charter for the formation of the Canadian Airborne Regiment was signed and the Regiment itself was formed in Edmonton and Valcartier.
The Canadian Airborne Regiment was initially organized as an independent formation with the following units: two rifle commandos, one artillery battery, one engineer field squadron, one signal squadron and a service company. Parachute instruction support was provided by the Canadian Airborne Centre, while the Canadian Forces Parachute Maintenance Depot provided technical support. Both of those units were based in Edmonton.
On 28 June 1970, a mechanized infantry battalion was added to the Regiment and was named 3 Mechanized Commando. 3 Mechanized Commando was an element of the 4th Canadian Mechanized Brigade and was stationed in CFB Baden, Germany. Although this unit was part of the Regiment, it did not have a parachute role. In 1977, 3 Mechanized Commando was removed from the order of battle and was renamed the 3rd Battalion The Royal Canadian Regiment.
In April 1977 the Special Service Force was formed by the amalgamation of units from two formations: 2 Combat Group and the Canadian Airborne Regiment. This formation was created in order to provide a small general purpose force in Central Canada which could quickly be inserted as Canada’s initial presence in any national or international theatre of operation.
Within the Special Service Force the Airborne Regiment became the core to which other elements can be added to forms the Airborne Battle Group. As a result of this transformation, the Canadian Airborne Regiment underwent a major reorganization in July 1977. The 1st Airborne Battery was disbanded and its role was assumed by E Battery (Para) 2nd Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery. The 1st Airborne Field Squadron was also disbanded and its role was assumed by the 2 Combat Engineer Regiment. An airborne evacuation platoon and an airborne treatment platoon were formed within 2 Field Ambulance, and were attached to the Regiment when the complete Airborne Battle Group was deployed. On 15 July 1977 the Canadian Airborne Regiment joined the Battle Group in CFB Petawawa, Ontario.
In July 1978, the Regiment underwent another reorganization. The two existing airborne commandos were reduced in size and a third, 3 Airborne Commando was formed in 1979.
The resulting Regiment consisted of five units. These were the three rifle commandos, a Headquarters and Signals Squadron and Service Commando. The Regimental Battle Group would grow to 1004 all ranks by the inclusion of the following elements:
1) E Battery (Para) Second Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery
2) Airborne Air Defence Section, Second Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery
3) Airborne Engineer Group, 2 Combat Engineer Regiment
4) Airborne Evacuation Platoon, 2 Field Ambulance
5) Airborne Section, 2 Military Police Platoon
This organization would remain in effect until the summer of 1992 when, in response to budgetary restraints, the Regiment would once more be downsized.
On 21 December 1991 His Royal Highness The Duke of York was appointed the Regiment’s first Colonel-in-Chief. On 24 June 1992 the Regiment assumed the status and organization of a parachute battalion.
Unfortunately, the Canadian Airborne Regiment had experienced disciplinary and leadership problems throughout its existence, and criminal activity in theatre in Somalia (Operation Deliverance 1992 –1993) only worsened the situation. The Regiment worked hard to redeem its reputation, but continuing courts-martial, Military Boards of Inquiry and subsequent public Commission of Inquiry kept the Regiment under close public scrutiny. On 23 January 1995 the Minister of National Defence ordered the disbandment of the Canadian Airborne Regiment.
Canadian Airborne Forces Association (CAFA)
A strong presence within the Airborne Family is that of the existing Airborne Associations. A large majority of the past and present Canadian paratroopers are active members in one or more of the following associations: First Canadian Parachute Battalion Association, First Special Service Force Association, Airborne Regimental Association of Canada (ARAC), and Canadian Airborne Forces Association (CAFA). CAFA is considered the umbrella airborne association and represents the Airborne Family at the Canadian Defence Association.