The creation of the Paratroopers School in 1955 began the first attempts of utilizing the parachute as an operational tool. After the reorganization of the Raiding Forces, it was decided for a number of officers and NCO’s to be attached to the Paratroopers School and then form a new unit under the School’s command. The Special Paratroopers Section was the first unit of paratroopers with an operational role in the Greek army.

The unit’s mission was the rapid deployment behind enemy lines and the conduct of unconventional warfare, mainly through guerrilla tactics. The training program that was followed was very different and much more demanding of any other raiding forces unit.

In 1963 the Paratroopers School and the Special Paratroopers Section merged forming the Paratroopers Detachment, but in 1965, as two Paratroopers Squadrons (battalion-sized) were created, they returned to their previous state. The Special Paratroopers Section continued to exist but being deprived the previous attention, it was unable to capitalize the newly acquainted military free-fall training capabilities.

By the mid-70s, NATO forces began to examine the idea of long range reconnaissance patrols and to create a centralized training program. The result was the formation of the International Long range Reconnaissance Patrol School in West Germany with which Greece signed an agreement of active collaboration in 1981. A large number of officers and NCO’s of the Greek SOF attended the School as trainees, and were then transferred to the Special Paratroopers Section, thus enhancing the overall level of the unit.

During the mid-80s, the Special Paratroopers Section began to actively participate in field exercises and training with foreign units. At the same time, the training and equipment the Section received were improved.

Despite all the positive moves, the political situation in Greece never allowed the Section to reach its full potential as a SOF unit. The milestone of the Imia crisis highlighted the weaknesses of the system and brought about drastic changes. The Section was now manned only by full-time career NCO’s, as up to that moment it also accepted raiders in their national service. Platoons specializing in specific areas were established (military free-fall, amphibious and mountain warfare) and from then on the unit has had a steady presence in field exercises and training with foreign SOF units.

From 2010 the unit focused on the military free-fall and special reconnaissance that are today its main operational role. The Section is the main representative of the Greek SOF in trainings abroad and the unit that takes initiatives and explores new systems and ideas.

31st Search and Rescue Squadron and Special Paratroopers Section in training with US Air Force 321st Special Tactics Squadron

Thanks to Savvas Vlassis for his help