The Commandant General Royal Marines, Maj. Gen. Charlie R. Stickland visited U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command last week to discuss future bilateral training opportunities with the Commanding General of MARFORCOM, Lt. Gen. Mark A. Brilakis.

The meeting was billed as an opportunity for the two senior leaders to strengthen the long-standing rapport between the services while also speaking about current and future operational advantages gained from training together.

“It is a relationship built on both mutual experience and cooperation, in both peacetime and conflict, and most importantly a shared set of values and capabilities,” said Brilakis.

“The Marine Corps’, both Royal and United States, will maintain the ability to interoperate and rely upon each other.”

When discussing the significance of NATO joint training opportunities and exercises, such as Bold Alligator and Trident Juncture, Stickland emphasized the importance of always improving joint capabilities and readiness.

“As we develop both Royal Marine and Royal Navy capabilities with the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy, each time we undertake a NATO exercise we should seize them as an opportunity and as a building block to develop our capability, our interoperability, and our collective ability to project power,” said Stickland.

“That’s why these NATO events are so key.”

Some of the advantages gained from training together include the sharing of tactics, techniques and procedures, and combining the experiences of each service to create a larger capacity and achieve mission success.

“No matter the operating environment, whether it’s in the High North, whether it’s at sea, whether it’s on a littoral, each one of those opportunities gives us a chance to improve,” said Brilakis.

The two commanders discussed future challenges and conferred how the strong relationship with the Royal Marines adds a competitive advantage to the U.S. Marine Corps and other NATO partners.

“There is a tyranny of distance and time to bring forces together,” said Stickland.

“Thus we should exploit the Royal Marines and Royal Navy’s forward deployed European posture to shape the battlefield and create a doubt in the enemies mind, as larger scale forces deploy and aggregate together for decisive effect from the sea.”

Brilakis highlighted how the unique alliance between the two nations will positively impact future operational capabilities.

“Take a look at what we are planning to do with the Royal Navy and Royal Marine Corps in 2021, where 5th generation United States fighter jets are going operate on the brand new naval capability of the Queen Elizabeth,” said Brilakis.

“It provides an incredible opportunity for us to understand our interoperability requirements, our ability to conduct those operations in time, in space and in locations to provide a rapid capable deterrent force.”


  1. Great, I love the sheer size of the USMC it’s huge for a marine force , and pretty much has its own dam Air Force and navy and is roughly the size of the whole British millitray including UK reserves. I wish we could double our RM commando numbers to around 16,000!, But atleast just now the Royal Marines are the only European marine force capable of conducting amphibious operations at brigade level.

      • I wonder what the US Marines really think of the Royal Marines?

        A great ally, a great military unit full of well trained and motivated people with some top notch gear?

        Or a sadly underfunded, small ( by comparison) force, with some generally not great equipment etc etc.

        Or somewhere between the two?

        • @Rear Gunner Richards

          As a US Marine for over 10 years now I can answer your question for you. I have also served with RMs in Afghanistan and with them on a training exercise at 20 Palms California. The general consensus from us across the pond is we respect the RMs a great deal. They are more physically than US Marines and by and large are better fights in hand to hand combat. However, as a force (assets, combined arms), the RMs are not seen as a equivalent to us. The USMC has so much internal material to throw at problems whereas the RMs do not. At 187,000 active duty, 4 Aircraft Wings, 2 tank battalions, over 30 amphibious ships (not to mention we always have the Navy ships shadow our amphibs) the USMC is an organization to behold. But I’d like to reiterate, the RMs are great guys and I believe them to be tougher one on one.

        • I’d be more interested in what the Royal Marines think of the British Army.

          I, maybe incorrectly, get the impression that our services are all in competition with one another and will belittle each other given the slightest chance.

          Can anyone enlighten me? All just personal opinion anyway.

          Are there any marines on this site?

        • As a US Marine of nearly 11 years now I believe I can answer this question for you. I briefly spent some time with RMs in Afghanistan and some training events with them at our training installation at 29 Palms, California. I believe the general consensus is that RMs as a whole are more physically fit that American Marines and are better at hand to hand combat than we are. However, as a force the US Marine Corps has so many assets at it’s disposal that we could wipe the floor with the RMs. We have 4 air wings (180+ fighters alone), 4 infantry divisions, 2 tank battalions, 30+ amphibious ships and a force of over 200,000 when reserves are included. The USMC is almost it’s own service. We also have our own internal cyber warfare arm, public relations, etc. It’s all internal, run by Marines, not the Army or navy. However, with a larger force though comes the compromise of quality, which the RMs have. The Royal Marines I’ve met are also very squared away, easy going and have the right attitude about warfighting.

      • I thought that would happen when the RM “restructuring” had been done. It’s sad what they are doing to our millitary.

      • They only need about 200 more people to get it back to brigade level. Surely the national budget can afford that. Take it from foreign aid.

    • What do our 8,000 RMs do? Even if only half of them are Infantry that’s still 4,000 which is enough for nearly 7 Commandos but we only have two plus half of a third.

      • Not so simple as that Tim.

        There are 7 Regiment, Battalion, Small Regiment sized formations in the RM.

        40 Commando
        42 Commando
        45 Commando
        30 Commando, an ICS HQ Regiment in effect.
        43 Commando.
        Commando Logistics Regiment.
        1 Assault Group RM. A Landing a craft “Regiment” in effect, umbrella formation for various Squadrons.

        Plus the Special Boat Service, 539 Sqn, and other minor units like the Band’s of RM.

        Many in the Corps are at Lympstone at CTCRM.

        Others are in “purple” formations like the PJHQ, other Joint Forces Command units, NATO, or at the many myriad departments at Main Building and other parts of the Mod.

        It all adds up.

        Without considerable mobilisation 3 Commando Brigade can not deploy as a fully equipped formation if 3 Commandos plus enough support units, which mostly come from the Army.

        The RM, and supporting enablers from the CHF, should in my opinion be greatly enhanced in all areas.

        • I agree they should be enhanced but the army support shouldnt be missed out here, consisting of 24 engineers and 29 artillery, along with these and all of the above associated reserve units. Also worth listing are the Commando Helicopter Force consisting of 845, 846 and 847 NAS.

          Whilst numbers do need to improve across the board they certainly still have the capability to deploy extremely fast when part of the JRRF.

      • Tim: You have to figure in training, recruiters, supply, medical , intel, communications, weapon maintenance, and various pushers of paper the government requires, not that the RM has all that many. A rough estimate is 1/3 to 1/4 of modern ground forces are front-line combat troops.

      • Great work Andy, maybe more petitions of similar nature that lots of us care about should be created when needed to. 👍🇬🇧

    • Steve I totally agree, I fought hard to save the RM along with the Albion and Bulwark even giving evidence to the defence committee on the subject.
      What I would like to see is three HMAS Canberra style assault ships,complete with its air component. That would give the RM and the army a very useful over the beach strike capability.

      • If you look world wide everybody is doubling down on their amphibious capability. What are we doing? Cutting back. It’s like the MoD likes to be contrary!

        In an ideal world yes a proper LHD or two would be good. If Ocean did nothing else she showed we needed two LHx, (slightly) larger, and built to naval standards. As we have QE’s I can’t see us getting another large aviation centred ship. What we do need is a class of large, fast LPD similar to the USN San Antonio class. Preferably 3 of them so one can follow the carrier, we have one back at home for training and ready to reinforce the other. Deploying the carrier along with the LPD and more than 12 F35b should be the centre of our defence efforts. (That’s why we should only buy F35b and no A’s and just live with the capability gap.)

      • Hello Ron. Not wanting to play fantasy fleets to much here. If we are exceedingly lucky, we will get one replacement for HMS ocean. However I seriously doubt this will happen in the immediate future.
        There does seem to be a concerted push to get some ships from the aid budget. If we are lucky these will be able to perform a very similar role to HMS ocean and will be 2 in number. I believe this is the most likely outcome at this time.
        To be honest if we get the 6th type 31 ship at present I’d chalk that up as a win. From what I have read, I get the impression that those in charge see the QE carriers as suitably providing for the gap in capability left when ocean was retired, (presumably ignoring all the obvious issues with this that others have pointed out) repeatedly).

      • (2nd posting attempt)
        Not wanting to play fantasy fleets too much here. If we are exceptionally luckily we will get one like for like replacement for HMS ocean. However I seriously doubt this will happen. Those in charge see the QE carriers as suitable for filling the capability gap left by ocean and I can’t see this viewpoint changing in the near future.
        There is a current push to get ships bought from the foreign aid budget. If we are very lucky, these ships will be able to serve a similar function to ocean and there will be two of them. This is the best we can hope for on the ocean front ATM imho.
        I do have a top three requirements for additional vessels, weighing up likelyhood, cost and need. First was a 6th type 31 vessel. However if they do forward base two of these that will reduce the need for a sixth. Second was an ocean replacement, which I hope will get covered by two aid ships (mentioned above). Got really stuck with the third though. I believe we need an 8th astute sub to ensure each QE carrier can have one assigned, but with current submarine building plans there is no way I can see this happening. That leaves either purchasing diesel electric ones off the shelf or somehow creating a second sub plant and building them ourselves. As neither of these are likely to happen we will either have to deploy one of our carriers with no submarine escort or have no sub globally deployed while second carrier is escorted, or never use the second carrier, or get support from allied subs. Maybe there is a slim chance we’ll purchase some DE ones and forward base one to cover the deployment of an astute. Can’t see this happening those.
        And all this is ignoring the fact that other things are needed for the navy before any more ships, eg manpower, spare parts and engineers

  2. I agree with Steve.

    Double the number of Merlin and we’re sorted.

    Other than this we’re pretty well balanced for the future. My shopping list would actually include a dozen V-22 (for AEW and A2AR) but I’d probably draw the line at using them for commando lift.

  3. Forgetting the dismal state of MOD funding for a moment, a replacement
    for HMS Ocean would make a lot of sense.
    A replacement like the Japanese Izumo class, able to operate as a helicopter carrier or in
    the light strike role (with embarked F-35’s) would add a lot of flexibility.
    The RN could operate one QE in a strike role, and either a QE or the Ocean replacement
    in a amphibious / light strike role as needed. The remaining vessel in long term maintenance.
    In peacetime its likely that only one QE/ light strike would be deployed at any given time,
    but it would allow for a QE/QE or QE/Ocean type to be available should a surge be needed.

    • Well Bugger me, !!!! QE Class Were never ever designed for “Ocean” type Work. “Ocean” was Designed and built to Commercial Standards and If you believe all the Official Crap, She was Beyond Repair and Bent in the Flightdeck Area and Rusting away below decks.
      Despite all that, brazil were really happy to take her on as FlagShip and even more happy to accept her after the UK had spent another £85 Million or there abouts, making her sea worthy for another 20 or so years.

      You wouldn’t Be able to run a small Business the same way !!!!

      But, Heck, It’s Tax Payers Money, so Who Cares ?

      TSR2, Nimrod, to name a few examples.

      • I think you will find QE incorporates design elements to facilitate ‘air assaults’ by EMF with extra wide passageways and direct routes to the flight deck. From the get go it was designed to undertake the LPH role. I cringe every time I see the phrase ‘strike carrier’, the QE class are large multi role aviation support ships. They are not fleet carriers. They are not LHA. There are a combination of both those roles and more.

        Ocean was built down to a price. From stem to stern she was outfitted with cheap pumps and fittings galore. Her hull design, based on the Invincible class, was a bit of chimera and with breaks in structure was bound to give problems at some point. Brazil has an industrial base that produces cheap pumps etc. that can keep Ocean going. Also remember there is owning ships and operating them at a high tempo. For example we will never operate the QE class as the same tempo as the USN operates their CVN or large flatdeck amphibians. Ocean will probably spend an awful lot of time against the wall in Brazilian service.

          • Ocean did prove that we needed two LPH built to naval standards and that we should have invested in trooping Merlin (with folding blades).

            Perhaps we should have built a LHD like the US Wasp class instead of QEC?
            I think QE’s role as a ‘strike carrier’ >cough< will be diluted if we buy F35a instead of concentrating on B. And if that comes to pass then yes we should have built a LHD instead of QEC; probably one a lot less ambitious than a Wasp too. For me the carriers' importance was never about the fast jets but ASaC/AEW; we scrimped on that with only 9 Crownest purchased I believed and we went with the cheaper, older, and less capable radar too.

            There is no joined up strategy as always……

            Even though we will not buy a purpose built LPH if I were to bu new LPD I would configure them along the lines of JMSDF Ōsumi class and have a flight deck that ran the entire length of the ship.

  4. We have six battlion sized commandos including the RMR. ALL wear the green beret including all associated units. All are combat trained. It is similar in size to the French Foreign Legion but about 200,000 light of the USMC!!
    We have the ships, the men but an ‘OCEAN’ replacement is highly desirous. That will give us six amphib ships and a cutting edge we never should have compromised.
    Defence matters are too vital to be left at the whim of the bean counters perhaps the most despied body of people in any industry. The defence of the realm and national interests are paramount. One day, just maybe the proverbial penny may drop. In reality £34bn or wharever buys us naff all less ten.
    Cameron and Clegg need stringing up but nearly 9 nears on, we must continue to pick up the pieces of the most divisive SDR ever. The RM have one role like the Paras; wreak havoc hard and fast on the enemy. Do not blunt the blade.

  5. When I was a teenager in the 80s I seem to remember us having a military of 320,000+. How many marines did we have at that time?

    How did we afford that size military then? I presume our % of GDP spent on the military was much higher, ie I think I read somewhere that it was around 5.3%.

    I feel we are in Cold War 2, even if it isn’t as intense as the first one. I’d happily spend more of my tax on strengthening the military than on spending it on some other things.

    • I quite agree antidote.

      I recall army 160,000 ish, RN 67,000 RAF around 92 ,000 from memory in late 80’s before OFC 91.

      I might be wrong but I don’t think the RM were that much larger. 4 Commandos I recall in late 70s? Only 3 by Fslkands war.

      The Corps of RM is one area to have escaped major cuts through the many reviews since 1991.

      And until a few years ago in shipping too as the Sirs were replaced by the Bays and the LPD one for one, plus Ocean.

      Gone a bit pear shaped since as RN emphasising carrier strike, where’s in my opinion both amphibiousity and carriers should be in tandem.

    • Daniele:
      Harold Wilson cut a lot of defenses, including reducing the overall personnel from nearly a half-million to 335,000. That was the strength at the time of the Falklands War. The RM were about 7700. They lost their 4th commando sometime in the 1970s, when there were close to 9000 marines. The national population was less than 60 million. The GNP was much less than one trillion.

        • Well, I was pretty young myself( cough, cough), but Wilson was a Labour PM when Labour was damn near controlled by Marxists. Labour was opposed to anything that smacked of imperialism, which included aircraft carriers, forces east of Suez, bombers, IRBMs. I suppose heavy machine guns were OK. I remember watching TV news about the cuts and asking myself why anyone would want to weaken their own country like that. Myself never answered.

  6. I take it the Commandant General Royal Marines took the opportunity to show off his large and impressive collection of evening gowns and dresses to his American counterpart in keeping with the finest traditions of the Green Death!


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