Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


This is coolbert:

The National Geographic magazine recently had an article about Russian smokejumpers.

Men that fight forest fires in the extreme Siberian wilderness.

Russian fire fighting smokejumpers that seem to be closely linked to the Soviet and now Russian VDV, Spetsnaz, and the "parachute psychosis" as mentioned by Suvorov.

The Russians now, and the Soviets before them, DID and DO have an enormous problem with Siberian forest fires. Fires that can only be fought by either smokejumpers [forest fire fighting paratroopers] or forest fire fighters rappelling out of helicopters [as the Russians in the Geographic article do].

It seems the Soviets were the world pioneers to use aircraft and smoke jumpers to fight forest fires. Did this long before anyone else was doing.

"When the Soviets pioneered smokejumping under Stalin’s communist regime, they were establishing an organization that would be copied in other countries around the world, including the United States. However, the Russian program grew from a unique team: of the 17 jumpers in 1937, one was a woman."

The modern generation does not so much jump as a paratrooper would but rather uses helicopters for insertion and extraction. Much as a modern military air assault unit would do.

[of course, in the days BEFORE the wide spread use of helicopters, parachuting would be the ONLY way to reach these fires in such remote places. As for getting back to civilization, I guess the only way would be to walk to raft down a river!!??]

[one of the Russian smoke jumpers is pictured wearing the striped blue and white undershirt of the Russian paratrooper corps, the VDV.]

In the Geographic article, it was stated that some of the Russians had participated in forest fire fighting training and operations in the U.S. Surprisingly, the Russians did not approve of American methods. Too much equipment and too much emphasis on safety!

[I have chosen the photo of VDV troopers below as an example of HOW the Russians seem to disregard safety. I cannot even think for a moment that American paratroopers would ever be allowed to climb out of the landing gear of an aircraft and pose for photos prior to doing a free-fall jump. The Soviet and Russian concept of "safety" was and is not the same as ours.]

And it is true what these Russians say. American forest fire fighters are equipped with a standard kit. Uniform, helmet, backpack, mattock, etc. NOT SO the Russians, who carry a bare minimum of equipment with them. Fires are fought with whatever is available, wet rags, branches with leaves still on them, etc.

[equipment does not even include a whole shovel. Just the head of the shovel is carried, a handle being manufactured out of a tree branch on the spot.]

Russian smoke jumpers, like a VDV trooper, wear the camouflage uniform that is designed for rugged conditions as is found in the remote areas of the Siberian taiga. These Russians must fend for themselves for days on end, are experts in survival tactics, and can live without resupply for their stay in the bush, which may be for weeks on end, if necessary!!

[keep in mind too that these fires do not appear to be the same as say a fire that would be fought in the Los Angeles area. Fires in the Siberian taiga are slow moving, not as intense, and do not endanger populated areas!]

My guess would be that the Russian smoke jumpers are veterans of the VDV, as they are already trained parachutists and aerial assaultists as well, and like all Russian soldiers, can survive and operate on the bare minimum, using whatever is at hand to accomplish the task. NOT ONLY surviving on the bare minimum and making do, but are expected to DO SO!

If you want to see more, go to the Russian and the English versions of the Russian Smoke Jumper web sites. Good stuff.

These guys impress me!!




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