Royal Marines Profile
The Royal Marines are the UK's 'go anywhere' amphibious forces and a key component of the government's Rapid Reaction Force. As such, they are required to be trained to work in different terrains and environments, from the cold, mountainous conditions in Northern Europe, to the hot arid regions of the Middle East and Africa and to the dense tropical jungles of the Far East.
All Royal Marines, except those in the Royal Marines Band Service, are first and foremost, commando soldiers. They are required to undergo what is recognised as one of the longest and most demanding infantry training regimes in the world. This is undertaken at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines at Lympstone, Devon in the West of England. A large proportion of the training is carried out on Dartmoor; rugged, inhospitable terrain epitomised in Conan Doyle's book 'Hound of the Baskervilles' .
The culmination of the training is the Commando Course, a series of tests of fitness, endurance and military professionalism which have remained virtually unchanged since the Second World War. Once a Royal Marine has passed his Commando Course he is entitled to wear the Green Beret and the 'Royal Marines Commando' flash on his uniform.
On completion of his training, a Royal Marines Commando will normally join a Commando unit of 3 Commando Brigade. There are 3 Commando units in the Brigade; 40 Commando located at Norton Manor near Taunton in Somerset, 42 Commando at Bickleigh, near Plymouth, Devon and 45 Commando at Arbroath on the east coast of Scotland.
Until recently, Commando units were structured along similar lines to army battalions. However, commando units have just undergone a major restructuring, the first since the Second World War, which was aimed at meeting the new challenges of the more fluid world environment which has been evident since the end of the Cold War. The restructuring, which was known as Commando 21, has re-organised commando units so their structure is now considerably different from army battalions.
In a Commando unit, a young Royal Marine's life will be busy. His first duty will be to put his training into practice and to become a member of the team. The team will be his 4 man fire team, the building block of commando operations. He will work with his team in the field and live with them in his accommodation. During his time in a Commando unit he will almost certainly undergo environmental training in either a hot, arid, humid jungle, or cold mountainous conditions. Normal training areas are the Middle East, Belize or Brunei, and Scotland and Norway, though if he deploys as part of the Amphibious Ready Group, it could be anywhere in the world.
The Amphibious Ready Group is a highly mobile, well balanced amphibious force at sea, based on a Commando Group and its supporting assets, that can be kept at high readiness to deploy forward into an area of likely contingency operations. The Amphibious Ready Group is normally based around specialist amphibious shipping, most notably HMS OCEAN, the largest ship in the fleet. HMS OCEAN was designed and built to accommodate an embarked Commando unit and its associated stores and equipment. The Amphibious Ready Group is a potent force in waiting, it can 'poise' beyond the horizon and move swiftly as directed by HM Government. The concept was successfully used in operations in Sierra Leone.
Once our young Royal Marine has earned his 'spurs' basic training, he will be selected for specialist training. Royal Marines specialisations range from Mountain Leader to Physical Training Instructor, from Weapons Instructor to Signaller, from Chef to Driver. If he has the necessary attributes, he can also train for the UK's Special Forces with the Special Boats Service. Whatever specialisation he chooses, our Royal Marine will find himself with an active lifestyle in a constantly changing career. He will also become more aware of the breadth of operations of the Corps and the activities of higher formations, particularly 3 Commando Brigade.
The Headquarters of 3 Commando Brigade is based in Plymouth, Devon and it was from here that the Brigade was mounted out during the Falklands Campaign in 1982. The Commando Brigade not only consists of Royal Marines units, but also of the essential combat support elements provided by the Army, most notably 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery (based in Plymouth) and 59 Independent Commando Squadron Royal Engineers (based in Barnstaple). These units provide the specialist artillery and engineer support for the Brigade.
All ranks serving with these units also undergo Commando training on the All Arms Commando Course. In addition, Army ranks provide some of the specialist combat service logistic support to the Brigade, which is provided by the Commando Logistic Regiment, also located in Barnstaple, Devon. The whole Brigade provides a well balanced amphibious force which, with its associated amphibious shipping, is self sustaining and capable of operating without host-nation support.
The Royal Marines are one of the oldest units in the British Forces, formed in 1664 from the trained bands of London. They have a proud history and unique traditions; they have so many battle honours that the 'globe itself' has become the symbol of the Corps. Currently, Royal Marines are serving all round the globe from Afghanistan to Bosnia and from Northern Ireland to the United States as well as on board HM Ships deployed worldwide.