The coveted maroon beret of the parachute regiment, better known as the Paras, has long been a symbol of elite warriors.

British Army officer captain Rosie Wild, age 28, of 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, has become the first woman to pass the arduous All Arms Pre-Parachute Selection (AAPPS), also known as P Company, the Para selection process.

Several women have attempted P Company throughout the years but have failed to meet the benchmark. Women were first offered the opportunity to challenge themselves on P Company selection in 1990. The physical requirements and intense pace of P Company have always required a very strong character, something which has always eluded many men.
Brig John Clark, commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, said that he hoped Capt Wild’s achievement “will encourage other women to have a go [at P Company].” “A more representative force will only make us stronger,” he added.
This is truly a historic achievement for the candidate. Whether or not Captain Rosie Wild understands the gravity of what she has achieved we may never know. All I can say is kudos to the captain: she had the mental fortitude and physical endurance to pass the course. She will return to her unit and continue to command, but with a new sense of pride and, undoubtedly, respect from her peers.
Captain Rosie Wild (Photo courtesy of the BBC.)

Modern Day Shield Maiden:

Captain Rosie Wild is a modern-day shield maiden: she is a competitive triathlete who joined the army three years ago. I believe that she has a great future ahead of her, and I am sure this will not be the last time that we hear her name in the news.
I know there will be the odd few who will feel disgruntled and potentially pride-hurt by the fact that a woman has passed P Company. My deepest condolences go out to those who are offended! I say to Captain Rosie Wild: You have my utmost respect and I wish you all the best in your military career and with your personal aspirations.

P Company / all arms pre-parachute selection (AAPPS).

The eight tests in the P Company course involve:

  • Marching 10 miles (16km) while carrying a 16kg backpack, in under 1 hour and 50 minutes
  • Completion of an aerial assault course designed to test a candidate’s ability to overcome fear
  • Carrying a 60kg telegraph pole as a team of eight soldiers over 1.9 miles (3.1km)
  • Running two miles (3.2km) with a backpack and rifle, within 18 minutes
  • Completing a 2.2-mile steeplechase — a cross-country run followed by an assault course
  • “Milling” — a boxing contest in which soldiers have points deducted for dodging or blocking punches
  • Marching 20 miles (32km) with a backpack and rifle, within four hours and 10 minutes
  • Carrying a 79kg stretcher for more than four miles (8km) as part of a team of 16 soldiers