The Parachute Regiment, colloquially known as the Paras, is an elite airborne infantry regiment of the British Army. The regiment is one of the most elite units in the world. The first battalion is part of the Special Forces Support Group under the operational command of the Director Special Forces. The other battalions are the parachute infantry component of the British Army's rapid response formation, 16 Air Assault Brigade. The Paras are the only line infantry regiment of the British Army that has not been amalgamated with another unit since the end of the Second World War.
The Parachute Regiment was formed on 22 June 1940 during the Second World War and eventually raised 17 battalions. In Europe, these battalions formed part of the 1st Airborne Division, the 6th Airborne Division and the 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade Group. Another three battalions served with the British Indian Army in India and Burma. The regiment took part in six major parachute assault operations in North Africa, Italy, Greece, France, the Netherlands and Germany, often landing ahead of all other troops.
At the end of the Second World War, the regiment was reduced to three regular army battalions first assigned to the 16th Parachute Brigade and later the 5th Airborne Brigade. The reserve 16th Airborne Division was formed using the regiment reserve battalions in the Territorial Army. Defence cuts gradually reduced the TA formations to a parachute brigade and then a single reserve battalion. In the same time period, the regular army battalions have taken part in operations in Suez, Cyprus, Borneo, Aden, Northern Ireland, the Falklands, the Kosovo War, the Balkans, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan, at times being reinforced by men from the reserve battalion.