Royal Marines have carried out commando training missions alongside US Navy forces across Scotland during the early phases of a deployment that will take them around northern Europe.
Members of the US Naval Special Warfare Task Unit-Europe joined Arbroath-based 45 Commando on rigorous urban close-quarter combat training missions, live firing drills and vertical assaults near Loch Lomond.
45 Commando form a central part of the Littoral Response Group (North) deployment, which will take commando forces and Royal Navy ships – HMS Albion, RFA Mounts Bay and HMS Lancaster – around northern Europe and into the heart of the Baltic this spring.
To prepare for those operations, more than 300 commandos headed on two separate preparatory ‘battle camps’, which saw them carry out a variety of essential commando training exercises alongside US allies to keep them razor sharp for what’s to come.
Marine Nathan Bell, X-Ray Company, said:
“I enjoyed having the chance to practice close-quarters battle, it’s interesting, but it’s also really important.
“It’s mentally quite tough as well though, because in real life, the scenario you are faced with will be unique; therefore, you need to be so well drilled that you can rely on your initiative in the heat of the moment.
“Commando basic training sets the foundations of teamwork and discipline which allows us to be successful.”
This training came after amphibious exercises with HMS Albion – the lead ship of the Littoral Response Group (North) deployment – with the marines heading inland to various locations, including rocky terrain near Loch Lomond where 45 Commando’s Mountain Leaders and the US forces carried out vertical assault drills.
This commando skill involves scaling sheer rock faces or cliffs to gain a tactical advantage and catch the enemy by surprise.
Mountain Leaders, who are experts in mountain and Arctic warfare, found a suitably imposing rock feature overlooking the loch – a great location for demonstrating how commandos approach a vertical assault, which is often integral to an amphibious assault.
Yankee Company also worked with the Americans on urban close-quarters battles and refreshed amphibious warfare tactics.
Meanwhile, X-Ray Company have also been on close-quarters battle training, live firing drills and used quad-bikes to get rapidly across the battlefield and into the fight.
The marines of X-Ray have also worked on calling in artillery and close air support, as well as break-contact drills and link-up procedures.
All commandos have been training in small raiding teams – a feature of the tactics associated with the Future Commando Force evolution – and focused on remaining undetected, while also hitting enemy targets when required.
Colour Sergeant Kristian Foster, X-Ray Company, added:
“We’ve had a really successful week of what is essentially ‘battle prep’ for operations.
“Going forward, we will take the skills we have developed in order to become lethal against adversaries and invaluable to our allies in NATO and the Joint Expeditionary Force.”
Asked what it’s been like to train with Royal Marines in Scotland, a member of the US team, said:
“We really respect the Royal Marines and it was great to join their Battlecamp in Scotland.
“It was good to build a better understanding of how we both operate and teach each other a thing or two.”
45 Commando are now heading on further exercises around Scotland with their Littoral Response Group (North) comrades.