Paratroopers are specially trained soldiers who are familiar with the operation of parachutes. These skydiving soldiers can penetrate battlefields behind enemy lines, since they can be dropped from the sky. Many people romanticize this particular branch of the airborne military, since paratroopers are usually highly skilled, very well trained individuals who are considered to be among the cream of the airborne crop. Some militaries also maintain exhibition paratrooping forces which perform at military events and airshows.
The concept of using parachutes to drop soldiers in specific areas gained a great deal of ground in the Second World War, when many militaries used aircraft as part of their overall strategy. Paratroopers were highly flexible, and generally dropped in small groups which could quickly gain ground. Since most forces do not expect to be attacked from behind, paratroopers also had a distinct advantage which they could exploit to destabilize the enemy in advance of a larger ground-based force.
Paratroops could also be used to spy on enemy territory, or to provide needed backup in areas which are hard to reach by land. Parachute forces in the Second World War also developed parachutes and rigging techniques for dropping needed equipment onto the battlefield. All of these uses for paratroopers continue to endure; with advanced rigging techniques, it is possible to drop vehicles and heavy weapons onto the ground along with supplies for refugees and other materials. Rigging for heavy objects requires special skills to ensure that the objects are not damaged during transit, and to make certain that they are dropped in the right place.
In order to qualify as a paratrooper, a soldier undergoes regular training and then receives special parachuting training. Soldiers are taken up into the air over friendly territory and taught proper skydiving technique. Once a soldier has completed several successful jumps from an aircraft, he or she learns how to manipulate the specialized parachutes used in paratrooping, and about techniques for staying in formation when jumping with a large group.
Typically, paratroopers are part of an airborne branch of a military, such as the Air Force. They perform routine jumps to keep their training on form, and some learn advanced techniques which allow them to do things like jump into water in diving gear. During wars and other military actions, the advantage of paratroopers may be utilized by invading militaries, making this glamorous military position quite dangerous for the participants.