A new series coming to ITV1 on Thurs, Jan. 10 at 9 p.m. will take an intense look at life in the Parachute Regiment— apparently, the first time a camera's been allowed access in a generation. You'll get an insight into the process — how somewhat innocent boys are trained into soldiers that are ready to kill — as well as the life-threatening tribulations they face on a daily basis. It mostly looks absolutely terrifying, but if that's your sort of thing, then the show may leave you wondering: can women join the Parachute Regiment?
As the Telegraph reported on Jul. 7, 2016, the day after David Cameron's appearance at the Nato Summit in Warsaw, the former Prime Minister announced that he would be removing the ban of women in the British Army's armoured units. Now more than two years later, women are finally entitled to join the Parachute Regiment, but it doesn't seem as though they've been all that keen to do so.
As The Mirror reported on Aug. 19, 2017, no female volunteers had signed up to the training course that year, despite Cameron's sanction. A senior officer at the Catterick base confirmed it to the paper, saying that "We have been told they are opting for intelligence and logistics roles" instead.
According to The Telegraph, it was forecast that around 40 women would apply to the Parachute Regiment — but that's clearly not been the case. To be fair, it's not so surprising that women have been put off. Some notable ex-special members, including Ant Middleton, host of SAS: Who Dares Wins have been very vocal about their position on the matter. On Jan. 7, 2018, Middleton told The Express: "I don't think there is a place for women in the special forces at the moment,” and added: "I think women need to prove themselves in a combat role first."
If that disappointing attitude doesn't put you off, then the gruelling selection process might. On Dec. 10, 2017, The Times reported that part of the entry process is essentially a punch up contest. It's what's known in the services as "Milling," which according to the newspaper, "involves two soldiers of similar weight repeatedly punching each other in the face and head for a minute. They wear gloves, gumshields and headguards but are not supposed to block or avoid incoming punches." Crikey.
The title of the ITV show suggests that the popularity of the regiment for women isn't going to change anytime soon: it's called The Paras: Men of War. Nevertheless, I fully recommend checking it out, especially if you are a woman perhaps considering a stint in the Parachute Regiment. If you are, then you're a much brave one than I am and I admire you greatly.
So what are the current recruits like? A statement issued by ITV gave an insight into the mindset of the soldiers. “The moment I’m given that rifle and on that plane jumping out into a war-torn country… I’m not going to be able to call my mum and ask her to give me a hug," says Private Jack Kojo-Braima. "It’s about just growing a pair and getting the job done.” Yikes.
The Paras: Men of War is a three-part documentary airing on ITV1 from Thursday 10 January at 9 p.m.