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Defence Secretary visits home of 45 Commando

Defence Secretary visits home of 45 Commando Group
16 February 2017
The Secretary of State for Defence, The Rt Hon Sir Michael Fallon KCB MP, visited 45 Commando Group near Arbroath in Scotland for the first time on Thursday 2 February.

This was an opportunity for him to observe a busy day’s training at RM Condor as the Commando Unit prepares to start Force Generation for Lead Commando in May.  

After meeting the Commanding Officer and Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM), the Defence Secretary began his tour with a visit to Woodlands Garden, the living memorial to all the men from 45 Commando who have died while serving at the Unit since it moved to Arbroath in 1971.

Whilst there he took the opportunity to present two Royal Navy ranks serving with 45 Commando with their Long Service and Good Conduct Medals.

Petty Officer (Chef) Ian Dixon and Petty Officer (Medical Assistant) Jamie Jackson received their medals in recognition for having maintained a clear military record with no misconduct for at least 15 years. Afterwards the POs and the RSM showed the Secretary of State around the garden.

The Defence Secretary was then taken on a tour of the camp to see a sequence of training serials conducted by the various elements of the Unit. He started by visiting the dry ski slope where Recce Troop were practicing abseiling, climbing and ski training.

As the UK Mountain and Cold Weather Warfare specialists it was important to showcase this competency, and Recce Troop confidently demonstrated a few of the techniques that comprise this capability. The Defence Secretary then toured the airfield which was being used for a wide range of training packages. 

The Royal Marines are at the heart of Britain’s defence

Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon

7 Commando Battery Royal Artillery had set up their 105mm guns, demonstrating the potential firepower that the Battery can provide in support of the Unit. 45 Commando is unique in having an attached RA Battery located on site, and this close bond has proved invaluable in training and on operations.

Logistics Company were practicing off-road manoeuvre and recovery in a variety of vehicles and Yankee Company were perfecting their break contact drills. The Unit’s Regimental Aid Post had also been established on the airfield, and earlier in the day each Company had been able to gain a reassuring insight into the process for treating and managing battlefield casualties.  

These various training evolutions showed the Secretary of State the wide range of capabilities that 45 Commando can deliver and sought to assure him that the Unit is ready to play a lead role in NATO’s Very High Readiness Group from 2018.  

The Secretary of State for Defence confirmed that Royal Marines will remain in Scotland for the foreseeable future, both with 45 Commando Group at Arbroath and with 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group at HM Naval Base Clyde. He described the Royal Marines as being ‘at the heart of Britain’s defence.’

Sir Michael Fallon finished his visit at the Modern Urban Combat Hangar, to observe Marines from X-Ray Company practicing Close Quarter Battle (CQB) drills. This was an opportunity to demonstrate the Marines’ ability to fight in an urban environment and to showcase the excellent training facility that has been developed by the Unit.

Instructor led CQB training took place in a self-built mock building, which can be reconfigured into a multitude of corridors and room layouts in order to make each clearance a different scenario.

On the other side of the hangar, the Secretary of State was shown how simunition kit is used to ensure that our training remains as realistic as possible within a safe and controlled environment.  

Overall, he was impressed by the Company’s slick and efficient display. On completion of Close Quarter Battle training, X-Ray Company assembled for a question and answer session.

The Secretary of State for Defence was challenged on a wide range of issues, from the role that Royal Marines will likely play in Britain’s defence in the future, to tax plans for Armed Forces pensions. Following this, Sir Michael Fallon thanked the Unit again for an informative and enjoyable visit.

The day was a useful opportunity for the Unit to come together and demonstrate a myriad of capabilities, not only to the Secretary of State, but to each other. 45 Commando Group showed that it is an effective and flexible fighting Unit, well prepared to take on the challenges of Force Generation and beyond.

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