The Royal Navy say that 45 Commando are the guinea pigs for a new initiative by the head of the US Marine Corps, General Robert B Neller, who is determined to better prepare his men for battle – by pitching them against their peers.
According to a press release:
“The US Marines send their units through the combat range at least once every two years, while all Royal Marines formations about to take on the mantel of Lead Commando Group – sent into action around the globe at immediate notice by the government when needed – pass through the training ground.
45 Commando are about to take on that role for the next two years and the Arbroath marines form the bulk of the Brits taking part in the six-week workout, Exercise Green Dagger. But they been joined by the gunners of 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, Bravo Company from 40 Commando based near Taunton, and the Royal Marines’ Viking armoured vehicles from Chivenor in North Devon.
The US Marines have thrown two battalions, plus Harrier jets, Huey and Cobra battlefield helicopters and drones into the ‘battles’.
Artillery and mortars “dropped some lead” on the expansive ranges after first making use of hi-tech simulators; infantry moved through ‘kill houses’ to practise house-to-house/close quarters battle; commando and Army engineers carried out demolitions and breaches; Vikings carried mortar units into battle for live shoots to support troops attacking on the ground; and two five-day urban battles, with British search and attack dogs from the Royal Veterinary Corps, helping the commandos clear out houses.”
“The Brits had a lot of capabilities that were near peer,” said Lieutenant Jason Hunter, a 23-year-old USMC platoon leader.
“They used air power, indirect fire and vehicles well – it really was a difficult problem they posed for us.”