The 5th Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, and the 508th Infantry Regiment will be making their final jumps soon as the U.S. Army wrestles with budget cuts. Both Pathfinders and Red Devils, two units with extraordinary histories, will see paratrooper status come to an end. Both units, who parachuted behind Nazi lines during WWII to hand Adolf Hitler his defeat, are closing out long histories as a result of the U.S. Army’s reconfiguration and budget cutting. Among the changes being made is a reduction in the number of parachute positions across the service.
Lt. Col. Don Peters, the team chief for Operations, Intelligence and Logistics with Army Public Affairs, told the AP reductions are in part due to shrinking budgets and to reach the maximum number of paratrooper billets to 49,000. Peters said 24 units accounting for 2,600 soldiers across the country were removed from jump status. That includes 12 units with the 18th Airborne Corps and the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, N.C., and the Company F (Pathfinder), 4th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 159th Aviation Brigade at Fort Campbell, Ky.
Ten, plus years of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan has built an invaluable level of experience that will be costly and time consuming to replace, but all things must change.