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Royal Marines logistics tested in Norfolk

Royal Marines logistics tested in Norfolk
11 May 2016
One hundred vehicles trundled down the lanes of Norfolk as 250 Royal Marines and soldiers tested their ability to support a thrust by commandos deep into hostile territory.

Exercise Green Dragon saw whether the Logistics Task Group could provide all the battlefield support the lead commando group (now 42 Commando from Bickleigh, who took over from 45 on May 1) might need.

The task group faced three missions – each one crucial to the success of any military operation: life support (medical support); sustaining the front-line troops (stores, fuel); and support (specialist repair units).

Using the sands at Muckleburgh – about half a dozen miles up the coast from Cromer – as their beachhead, the group skipped the tricky business of amphibious landing and moved straight to the business of supporting the push inland.

The objective set was STANTA, the Army’s exercise area north of Thetford – 35 miles away; to put that into perspective, the invaders on D-Day were charged with seizing Caen, just nine miles from the beaches.

Some 145 tonnes of supplies were piled up at Muckleburgh – enough provisions for five days – while a makeshift ‘petrol station’ (portable bulk fuel installation is the official term) established to provide the black gold fuelling vehicles. 600,000 litres of black gold (enough to fill the tanks of nearly 11,000 family cars), plus 2,000 litres in air-portable containers for the Commando Helicopter Force to ferry forward.

Green Dragon was a fantastic opportunity to practise all the elements of support the Commando Logistics Regiment provides to 3 Commando Brigade

Royal Marines Officer, 3 Cdo Bde

The air route was by far the safest in the scenario of Green Dragon – providing assistance to the people of a contested enclave (the Army’s exercise area played the part) – for vehicles running between the beachhead and the enclave, that meant running a 35-mile gauntlet.

These ‘combat logistics patrols’ – the title ‘convoy’ was dropped as the operation took on a more ‘fighting’ nature in Afghanistan and Iraq – required troops to offer protection, bomb disposal experts, a team of protection dogs to sniff out not just home-made bombs, but also arms caches, medics who could deal with battlefield casualties for onward transfer to the main first aid post at Muckleburgh.

In addition, one scenario called on the task group to provide large-scale humanitarian aid: Bravo Company 40 Commando secured the distribution point; chefs prepared the food; the transport troops delivered it.

And it was all played out in largely foul weather – at times hail and gale-force winds.

An Officer from the unit said, “Commando logistics operations challenge both soldiering skills and trade-specific knowledge at every rank in a logistics task group”.

“Green Dragon was a fantastic opportunity to practise all the elements of support the Commando Logistics Regiment provides to 3 Commando Brigade. Hopefully, in future it will see even greater participation to make the maximum use of interaction with all the units.”

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