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Royal Marines battlefield logistics tested across Salisbury Plain

Royal Marines battlefield logistics tested on Salisbury Plain
4 July 2017
The Royal Marines rolled out their rearward services to ensure front line troops have the support they need on the battlefield.

Around one third of the Commando Logistics Regiment decamped from its base at Chivenor in north Devon to Salisbury Plain to test its ability to save life, sustain and support 3 Commando Brigade in peace or war.

Exercise Green Dragon was to the regiment what Operational Sea Training is to the front-line Royal Navy, determining whether a unit is fit to deploy on the front line - in CLR's case supporting and sustaining the lead commando group on operations.

The validation on Salisbury Plain saw some strange-looking vehicles wheeled out such as the battlefield recovery truck, its giant crane able to right trucks which had slipped into drainage ditches, or JCBs ferrying ammunition boxes through the tall grass.

In fact Green Dragon tested every aspect of the regiment - one of the largest (780 personnel) and probably the most unusual formation in the entire Armed Forces and certainly the most diverse, drawing its men and women from all three Services with an unparalleled mix of cap badges.

Seventy-three 'prime movers' - heavy plant/trucks - roamed around the plain in support of the exercise. The tankers alone caried 35,000 litres of diesel - enough to fill the tanks of nearly 650 family cars, while a 40,000-litre fuel dump was established to 'feed' the Merlin.

A battlefield sick bay was set up for surgeons to carry out surgery on the severely wounded, patching them up sufficiently to be flown away to hospital for more permanent treatment.

Green Dragon gave us the opportunity to understand the sustainment requirements for any task 3 Commando Brigade gives us

Lt Col David Nicholson RM, Commanding Officer CLR

Recovery and repair teams, er, recovered and repaired vehicles which suffered mishaps - no matter how large.

Jackal off-road vehicles scoured the rolling terrain of the British Army's most famous exercise area - lengthy supply lines have to be protected.

And two heavily-guarded convoys of vehicles - combat logistics patrols in modern military parlance - rumbled across the plain from the rear to the fighting front.

Vehicle mechanics worked around the clock to keep motors running… and those motors powered the supply chain to move rations, clothing, ammunition and fuel around the plain.

To give added realism to the training, a detachment from Alpha Company 40 Commando, a Merlin helicopter from 846 Naval Air Squadron - the wings of the Royal Marines - which acted as an airborne ambulance, flew reconnaissance missions and carried equipment around the battlefield in huge nets slung beneath the aircraft.

Just for good measure, the exercise gave the RAF (Tactical Supply Wing) and Army (13 Air Assault Support Regiment) the chance to test their logistical support in the field, making Green Dragon a very useful workout indeed for all participants.

"Green Dragon gave us the opportunity to understand the sustainment requirements for any task 3 Commando Brigade gives us and ensured that the brigade is confident that its logistics task group is capable of delivering the support and sustainment required for those tasks," said Lieutenant Colonel David Nicholson RM, Commanding Officer CLR.

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