11 contestants including one woman succeeded in the selection procedure of the 4th Airborne Company of the Active Reserves
On Saturday 13th July at 7 a.m. nineteen candidates were standing at the entrance gate of the airport of the 43rd Airborne Battalion in Chrudim, who decided to meet the very strict limits of the two days’ selection procedure of the 4th Airborne Company of the Active Reserves. On Sunday 14th July eleven contestants successfully completed it, and for the very first time one of them was a woman. Even Lieutenant Colonel, Ivo Zelinka, Deputy Commander of the organization core of the Airborne Regiment could not miss the selection procedure of the Airborne Company of the Active Reserves.
Last weekend the selection procedure of the 4th Airborne Company of the Active Reserves took place for the second time this year. The first one occurred this year in March. During these two weekend days the candidates must not only cope with these strength and endurance disciplines, but above all they have to meet the limits given. All this occurs under non-stop control of the instructors from the 43rd Airborne Battalion and, of course, also psychologists and medical officers.
“In this second round 19 candidates, who applied for the selection procedure, arrived to Chrudim,” reports First Lieutenant Pavel Kinc, the Commander of the Active Reserves’ training group of the 43rd Airborne Battalion in Chrudim, and adds that eight candidates fell behind during the demanding disciplines, and the remaining eleven could triumphantly shout „Chrudim!“ on Sunday.
Press-ups, pull-ups, running, swimming and team running with a beam
On the first day the candidates had to exercise classical sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups and 12-minute run. Already this first round eliminated three candidates. Nevertheless they made no secret of their intention to try again next year.
The next discipline – swimming – included 300 meter free style swimming, followed by diving, fishing out a gun out of the water and holding breath underwater.
„By means of the swimming discipline we examine, whether the future Active Reserve member is able to swim a given distance within the set time limit, whether he or she is able to dive and to stay afloat in difficult conditions,“ explains First Lieutenant Kinc. „For example staying afloat in difficult conditions imitates being stuck in a parachute after parachuting into water, so mastering these seemingly easy disciplines is watchfully followed by the instructors.“
Another challenge was a 5 kilometre team movement with a beam. This discipline that was accompanied by constant rain eliminated further candidates from individual teams. Almost immediately after return back to the airport premises of the paratroopers an obstacle course was waiting for the candidates. At first they had to master all checkpoints as individuals, then they repeated them in teams with a beam. Physical condition of those who persisted was proved at 7:30 p.m. by a rapid movement in a forest with 10 kg load on everyone’s back. Two hours before midnight psychologists from the 43rd Airborne Battalion took over the participants who continued in the selection procedure.
25 kilometres with 25 kilos on their backs within 6 hours
„Individual disciplines were prepared with the aim to successively get the participant under physical, as well as psychological pressure,” explains Commander of the Active Reserves’ training group First Lieutenant Kinc. „Now they have about two to three hours to sleep and at half past three in the morning they will have to cope with the most difficult part of the selection procedure – walking movement of individuals with at least 25 kilos on their backs. The limit for members of combat units’ Active Reserves is 6 hours, and 9 hours for members of the Staff’ Active Reserves.
The first participant came at 8 a.m., others successively followed. The top discipline was tough for everyone. Cramps, blisters, exhaustion. Everybody had to cope with these problems, as the last „slog“ – movement with an injured person on a stretcher within the airport premises – was ahead of them, and they really had to work hard here. Everyone went flat out, important was the cooperation within teams.
„These team disciplines, where the group have to communicate during the task and fulfil the given discipline as a whole, are the most important for us,“ explains the Commander for the training of the Active Reserves of the 43rd Airborne Battalion.
All eleven remaining participants managed to successfully complete the selection procedure. For the first time in history one of them was a woman
„We have organised selection procedures to our company since 2016, and since then several women applied,“ reports First Lieutenant Kinc. „None of them managed to fulfil the given conditions, though. The female participant who participated in the selection procedure that took place this July was the first woman to meet all limits – and based on this selection procedure and after fulfilling other conditions, she can become a member of the 4th Airborne Company.“
Sleep debt, physical fatigue, cramps and blisters
„The biggest challenge for me was to deal with the 25 kilometre night march,“ says the 31 years old entrepreneur in IT, Michal Ptáček. „I underestimated preparation, and in the second half of the march I was paying for my wrong backpack selection. I had to surpass myself, not give up, and I reached the destination with the help of my willpower.“
Another successful participant, a 26 years old sales manager, Adam Čech, has been a member of the Active Reserves already for two years. „The reason why I entered Active Reserves was a matter of principle. I wanted to be able to help in case of need – if the state was endangered or e. g. during floods.
But when I learned to know, that there is a possibility to become a member of a paratrooper combat unit, I accepted this challenge, and I wanted to prove to myself that I can do it. I am glad I succeeded. For me personally the most difficult discipline was the 5 kilometre team run with a beam, and then the last one – running with a stretcher when evacuating an injured person. I had to find the very last bits of strength in myself, and I only completed it thanks to my willpower. I did not want the whole team to fail because of me. But I succeeded, and that is the most important.“
The first woman to meet all the requested limits of the selection procedure is the 36 years old operator in a car factory, Simona Klimešová. „The hardest for me was the 25 kilos on my back during the night march, and then I had to overcome the pain caused by blisters. My boots betrayed me almost in the beginning of the 25 kilometre march, as the sole fell off. Luckily I had a pair of trainers in my backpack, but I had blisters all over my feet. I knew that I had the evacuation of an injured person on a stretcher ahead of me, so I had no choice - I had to walk the pain off, and stop to perceive it. I am very happy I did it. I was preparing myself for it thoroughly for a year – I daily ran and exercised, and I also completed long marches with a load. But despite of it I will be recovering after this for several days, I will relax. But I know that this selection procedure is not the end, but the beginning. So I will start improving my physical condition as soon as possible.
Picture: Lieutenant Colonel Ivo Zelinka, the Deputy Commander of the organization core of the airborne regiment, also arrived to Chrudim, and accompanied the participants during both days of the selection procedure | Jana Deckerová, army.cz
4th Airborne Company of the Active Reserves transforms to the 5th Commando of the Airborne Regiment
„Transformation of the 43rd Airborne Battalion to Airborne Regiment will bring about extension of the task portfolio,“ informs Lieutenant Colonel Ivo Zelinka, Deputy Commander of the organization core of the airborne regiment and adds that this existing 4th Airborne Company of the Active Reserves transforms to the 5th Commando of the Active Reserves. „With regard to doctrinal tasks of the Airborne Regiment, the changes will impact also the Active Reserves part, where Active Reserves will only fulfil a certain segment of tasks of the professional unit. They will be able to fulfil some of the tasks on their own, such as operations using traps, attacks or operations aiming for gaining control. They will fulfil airborne operations exclusively as a part of a system of the unit, and they will not perform some special operations at all, such as evacuation of combatants (members of organized armed forces, groups and units).
This project of the 4th Airborne Regiment of the Active Reserves started three years ago, and its vision was that it will be the full-bodied combat unit of the 43rd Airborne Battalion in Chrudim. „We manage to fully meet this goal, the unit is full from more than 50 % in spite of the fact that our selection procedures are tough and not more than 60 % of candidates pass. We are satisfied at most with this unit, and if the existing rate persists, we can expect victory and replenishment of the unit in three years’ time.“