16th Air Assault Brigade
Airborne Task Force
The 16th Air Assault Brigade is the British Army's premier rapid response formation, bringing together the agility and reach of airborne forces with the potency of the attack helicopter. In combination with Offensive Air Support, Air Transport and Support Helicopters, the Brigade is a light, adaptable and potent force, packing a heavy punch wherever required around the world. With 8,000 personnel as of 2012, 16th Air Assault Brigade is the largest Brigade in the British Army. Its structure makes it highly flexible and capable. 16th Air Assault Brigade is the only operational brigade in the British Army capable of delivering air manoeuvre, air assault and airborne operations. It remains at high readiness as the UK's Airborne Task Force.
The Brigade's name is derived from 1st and 6th Airborne Divisions, which saw distinguished service during the Second World War. 16th Air Assault Brigade's 'Striking Eagle' badge was adopted from the Special Training Centre in Lochailot, Scotland, where Special Forces and Airborne troops were trained between 1943 and 1945. The maroon and light blue colours of the badge represent the airborne (parachute) and aviation (attack helicopter and utility helicopter) elements of the Brigade respectively.
16th Air Assault Brigade was formed on 1 September 1999 following the Strategic Defence Review. It was born of an amalgamation of elements of 5th Airborne Brigade and 24th Airmobile Brigade. Based in Colchester, Essex, the Brigade Headquarters was formed from both Army and RAF personnel enabling it to integrate Air and Land operations. 16th Air Assault Brigade served in the vanguard of operational deployments during the 2000s, including to Sierra Leone, Macedonia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
The Brigade returned in April 2011 from deployment in support of the Operation Herrick 13 rotation in Afghanistan, where it was the lead formation in command of Task Force Helmand, in Lashkar Gah. After returning from Afghanistan, the Brigade resumed its core role as the Army's very high-readiness force, ready to deploy anywhere in the world at short notice as part of the United Kingdom’s response to contingency.
In October 2011, more than 1,000 troops from the Brigade took part in Exercise Joint Warrior in southwest Scotland to confirm their readiness for the role. The Airborne Taskforce for the exercise was based around the airborne infantry of 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment and included soldiers from the, 5th Battalion (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders), The Royal Regiment of Scotland, with the attached artillery, engineering, signals, logistics and medical support it needs to conduct operations.
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