Later in 1944, the brigade was expanded to form the 44th Indian Airborne Division as the original 9th Airborne Division was to be named because the 44th Armoured Division whose services were no longer required in the Middle East theatre of war was to be converted to airborne. The 44th Indian Airborne Division was finally designated the 2nd Indian Airborne Division in 1945. The Indian Parachute Regiment was established as the regiment to which its Indian and Gurkha parachute battalions would belong - 152nd Indian Parachute Bn being split to form the 1st Parachute Bn consisting of Hindu troops and the Muslims troops forming the 4th Para Bn, while 153rd and 154th Gurkha Para Bns being renamed the 2nd and 3rd Bns respectively. Four independent parachute companies were also raised to complete the regiment, one each as a defence company for the divisional HQ and the brigade HQs and named thus.
The regiment's first airborne action was towards the end of the Second World War, when a reinforced Gurkha Parachute Bn was parachuted into Burma at Elephant Point on May 1, 1945, as part of Operation Dracula. The Bn performed well earning the respect of all, including the critics of airborne warfare. Despite the performance, the Indian Parachute Regiment was disbanded in late 1945 as part of the restructuring of the postwar British Indian Army.
On Independence in 1947, the airborne division was divided between the Indian Army and the army of the newly formed Pakistan, with India retaining the Divisional HQ and the 50th and the 77th Parachute Brigades and the 14 Parachute Brigade (converted from the 14th Airlanding Brigade going to Pakistan. The 77th Indian Parachute Brigade was disbanded and the 50th Bde, comprising battalions each from the 2nd Punjab Regiment, Marathra Light Infantry and Kumaon Regiment, continuing to wear the uniform of their parent regiments except for a change in headgear which was changed to the maroon beret, the crown of the airborne worldwide and to distinguish them from the other battalions of their regiments, the word 'PARA' was added after the numericals. The three battalions saw extensive action in the war in Kashmir and won a battle honour each in their respective sectors. The brigade commander, Brig. Mohd. Usman, was killed in action on July 3, 1948, and awarded the Mahavir Chakra posthomously.
60 Parachute Field Ambulance as part of the 50 Para Bde also saw action in Kashmir where it raised and maintained the now famous Cariappa Hospital catering to the needs of numerous units in its vicinity (27 Indian Army and State Forces battalions along with other units) and constantly facing shortages due to the war situation and inclement weather conditions. The unit's performance like other units of the parachute brigade was beyond all expectations and resulted in the awarding of numerous gallantary awards.
The 4th Battalion was raised in 1961 as the need was felt to increase the strength of the Regiment.
After the Chinese debacle of 1962 when the need to have a larger army was felt, the Parachute Regiment too had its share of expansion with the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th battalions being raised in a span of two years. A second parachute brigade, the 51st, was also raised to compliment the 50th Brigade.
In 1999, 2 Para Bn was also converted to Special Forces followed a few years later by the 3rd Bn and the 4th Bn.
Five Parachute battalions (including 3 Para Commando battalions) took part in Operation Pawan (Sri Lanka).
With 6 PARA in the lead 50 (Independent) Parachute Brigade took part in Operation Cactus in November 1988, the first successful overseas intervention operation to aid the duly elected government of Maldives.
In 1999, nine out of ten Parachute battalions were deployed for OP Vijay in Kargil, which bears testimony to the operational profile of the Regiment. While elements of the Parachute Brigade cleared the Mushkoh Valley intrustions, 5 PARA was actively involved in the forgotten sector Batalik, where it exhibited great courage and tenacity, and was awarded the COAS Unit Citation.
Calls of international peacekeeping have taken Parachute units to Korea (1953-54), Gaza (1956-58) and UNAMSIL,Sierra Lone (2000). The last was a daring rescue mission conducted by the 2 PARA (SF). The Parachute battalions have also served in Congo and Ethiopia/Eritrea apart from individual officers serving in staff or as observers with the United Nations.
Outside the battlefield, the Parachute regiments has also accomplished major featues. The late Capt (later Col Retd) AS Cheema, SM was the first Indian atop Mount Everest (1965), while Maj SS Shekhawat, SC, VSM scaled the peak thrice (2001,2003 & 2005) apart from scaling peaks in the French Alps and in Africa, and Maj Abhijeet Singh, SM (2003).
Three of the Special Forces battalions were originally trained for use in certain environments; 1st bn-[strategic reserve], 9th Bn-[mountain] and 10th Bn-[desert] and the 21st bn-[jungle]. Currently all Special Forces battalions are cross trained for all environments.
The missing 8th Battalion became 16th Battalion, Mahar Regiment in 1976 before transferring as the 12th Battalion, Mechanised Infantry Regiment. A sizable part of the battalion was retained in the airborne role, forming the armour element of the 50th (Independent) Parachute Brigade and is equipped with their BMP2 Infantry Combat Vehicles.
The 50th (Independent) Parachute Brigade comprises two parachute battalions, one special forces battalion, 60 Parachute Field Ambulance, 411 Parachute Field Company (Bombay Sappers), 622 Parachute Composite Company ASC, 50th (Independent) Parachute Brigade OFP (Ordnance), 50th (Independent) Parachute Brigade Signal Company, 2 (Independent) Parachute Field Workshop Company, 1 parachute field regiments (Artillery)(9 & 17 parachute field regiments), provost section, an air defence battery. The President's Body Guard also forms part of the brigade as the pathfinder company.
The three parachute battalions in rotation form part of the parachute brigade alternatingly serving their field tenures in counter-insurgency/high altitude areas. One of the seven SF battalions too serves in the brigade on rotation. One of the two field regiments (9 Para Fd Regt and 17 Para Fd Regt) also forms part of the brigade while the other serves out its field tenure on rotation.
Two Territorial Army battalions, 106th (Bangalore) and 116th (Deolali) also form part of the Parachute Regiment. They form the elite part of the Terriers (as the Territorial Army is popularly known) and presently involved in COIN operations.
Last, but not the least, 31st Battalion (Commando), Rashtriya Rifles, is also affiliated to the Parachute Regiment, for special operations conducted by the counter-insurgency force.
Also worn by the special forces personnel are cloth patches on both the upper shoulders in maroon with light blue borders and "SPECIAL FORCES" inscribed in light blue. Formation sign: A light blue Shatrujit (the Indian version of the Belerophone) half horse and half man with wings and a bow and arrow in ready position, signifying the operational readiness of the brigade, on a maroon background.