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Royal Marines prepare to assume Lead Commando

 Delta Company, 40 Commando, and Fox Company, USMC, fight through wooded areas to secure three objectives
18 May 2017
Around 700 personnel from 40 Commando have decamped from their base in Taunton and headed for Salisbury Plain in one of the biggest exercises undertaken by a Commando unit in over a decade.

Exercise Wessex Storm served as a validation exercise for 40 Commando as the unit prepares to take the mantle of Lead Commando Group from 42 Commando.

For three weeks 40 Commando were put through their paces on England’s principal workout area for ground forces, Salisbury Plain, the largest military training area in the UK at 150 square miles, which offers the opportunity to conduct difficult training programmes such as urban operations and aviation drills.

The unit was boosted by the arrival of 42 infanteers – along with their Carl Gustav M4 anti-tank weapons – from the United States Marine Corps.

Personnel from Fox Company, 3 Platoon, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine, made the journey to the UK from Camp Pendleton in California.

The base comprises more than 125,000 acres – around 1.5 times larger than Salisbury Plain.

Captain Joe Carvill, training officer with 40 Commando, said: “Their positive approach and adaptability throughout the exercise has proved, again, our ability to work with one of our closest allies.”

Wessex Storm ensured every element of 40 Commando completed intensive training serials. Close-combat companies Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta completed battle exercises, including fighting in a mock village, defensive operations, being dropped into battle by helicopter and more conventional ground advances across the Plain.

Deploying so soon has given me the ability to put the skills I learned at the Commando Training Centre into practice and a chance to get to know and mix with the guys.

Marine Enoch Cheung

Marine Cheung, 24, a rifleman in Delta Company, added: "I left training at the Commando Training Centre (CTC), joined 40 Commando and deployed on exercise in the space of a week.

"Deploying so soon has given me the ability to put the skills I learned at CTC into practice and a chance to get to know and mix with the guys."

Delta Company’s primary role is protecting mobility, so Marine Cheung worked closely with the amphibious all-terrain vehicles of Viking Squadron.

The exercise actually began at Royal Marines Base Chivenor in North Devon and culminated in a full battlefield exercise involving elements of 3 Commando Brigade, 24 Commando Royal Engineers, 29 Commando Royal Artillery and Joint Helicopter Force attacking enemy pockets of resistance on Salisbury Plain.

Not to be forgotten, personnel from Commando Logistics Regiment, made sure the exercise ran like clockwork and everyone was fed.

CHF (Commando Helicopter Force), the wings of the Royal Marines, deployed a Merlin Mk3 from 845 NAS, a Wildcat from 847 NAS, Chinooks from 18 Sqn RAF and Apache attack helicopters from 656 Sqn ACC. The aircrew were joined by personnel from CHF HQ, CHF Combat Supply Squadron

Throughout Wessex Storm, commandos used TES – Tactical Engagement System – eqiupment, which enables force-on-force warfighting and provides realistic and accurate information on the effect of battle on personnel, vehicles and even buildings.

The system is invaluable to commanders as it allows them to assess and review tactics, troop movements and identify key areas for improvement.

Wessex Storm, which involved more than 1,500 personnel, was overseen by the British Army’s Field Training Unit.

40 Commando now take on the role as Lead Commando Group, ready to deploy at five days’ notice anywhere in the world to deal with a crisis.

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