The Training Platoon
The Training Platoon (Pl Trg) is part of the Training Centre for Paratroopers (TrgC Para) and has its barracks in Schaffen, a borough of Diest.
It is a part of the Parachuting Company (Pchage Cie), together with the Air Delivery Platoon (Pl RavAir), the Pathfinder Platoon (Pl PF) and the MAOT (Mobile Air Operations Team).
The Platoon itself consists of 21 despatchers (parachute jump instructors) who work in five different cells. The command cell exists from the OES (Officier d’Entraînement au Saut) and the IES (Instructeur d’Entraînement au saut); in short the commander and his second in command.
The cell AO (automatic opening) is the largest cell, which is responsible for the basic parachuting course ‘A’ (BAP), the different refresher courses AO, the basic course B Para (BBP), the Junior Para Course (for adolescents between 16 and 19), the P3 (annual refreshment for the Para-Commando units) and executing the daily parachuting program.
Only the Para-Commando candidates are allowed to participate the ’Para A’ parachuting course (BAP). They must execute eight jumps, first from the balloon with and without equipment, both during daytime and at night. Afterwards the candidates jump out of the C130 Hercules. By the end of the course, they need to do one night jump with equipment, in sticks of 30 paratroopers simultaneously, the famous charette.
Every soldier of the Belgian Defence Forces can request to participate the Para ‘B’ (BBP). They make four day jumps from the balloon. The students of the Royal Military Academy can also do this course. They do two balloon and two airplane parachute jumps.
Teenagers between 16 and 20 years can go for the Junior Para brevet. They execute four balloon jumps, with a non-military character.
A P3 is an annual refresher course where a Para-Commando company reviews the different parachute jump techniques. During the course, they execute operational jumps on DZ’s (drop zones) all over the country.
The despatchers who are part of the cell BO (the free fall cell) are also jump master AFF (Accelerated Free Fall) and they are responsible for the courses HA (High Altitude < 12000Ft) and VHA (Very High Altitude < 25000Ft , with oxygen bottles), the refresher BO, the training periods in Belgium and abroad. They also conduct the tandem master course. These courses are only open for despatcher candidates, RavAir, Pathfinder and Special Forces.
The Cell DZ, with its two ODZ (officer drops zone), makes reconnaissances of the DZ, is responsible for the DZ Section (weather, medical support and signallers) during the parachute drop, takes care of the used parachutes and/or transport of personnel after the jump. Because the ODZ has the up-to-date weather situation at the place of the jump, he has the very last word whether the jump takes place or is cancelled.
The Parachute Jump Instructor Course, with its two instructors, is conducted once a year. It lasts six months. After this intense half year, the candidate despatchers become instructors AO and jumpmasters BO. If they succeed, they can wear the parachute jump instructor wing. After two months probation at the Training Centre, the young despatchers return to their respective units.