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First Sea Lord Speech to the Commando Training Centre Passing Out Parade

26 May 2017
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The First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, delivered the following speech at the Passing-Out Parade at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines in Lympstone on 26 May 2017.

It is with a mix of professional and personal pride that I stand here today to celebrate the accomplishment of all those on parade.

Each of you passing out today has my respect and admiration, and I say that both as the First Sea Lord and as a father.

Over the past 32 weeks, and in many cases for much longer than that, you have endured pain and exhaustion. You have overcome weakness and confronted fear. You have run harder, and pushed yourself further, than you ever thought possible.

Each time you thought you had reached your limit, you dug deep and found the grit and determination within you to carry on. Not everyone you started training with made it this far, but you did; and in doing so, you became a Royal Marines Commando.

Generations have stood where you now stand. They served their country in peace and war: from the freezing mountains of Korea and the deserts of Iraq, to the jungles of West Africa and the scattered villages of Afghanistan.

Now you follow in their footsteps, and the reputation they established belongs to you.

You have proven yourself worthy of this uniform, but being a Royal Marine means more than simply wearing a green beret.

Being a Royal Marine is about maintaining the standards of the most feared and most respected fighting force in the world.

Because the discipline and focus I see on display before me isn’t just for show.

You may think the past few months of training have been hard. But the places where you will go, and the situations in which you will find yourself, will be harder still.

And one day, when you are sent into action and hear the sound of gunfire, you will require that same focus and discipline once again.

When that moment comes, you’ll think back to the things you learnt here, and you’ll be grateful that you were made to do them again-and-again until you got it right.

So, on your behalf, I would like to thank your training team, and all the instructors and support staff here at the Commando Training Centre, for their work to prepare you for this journey.

I would also like to thank the Royal Marines Band for a fantastic performance today. I know the CTC Band well and how busy you are. I have also recently seen some of your colleagues play in New Zealand and in Singapore. You are an intrinsic part of the Corps and the most wonderful ambassadors for Britain.

There is one other group of people who have been with you every step of the way, even if not literally: your families, loved ones and close friends; and it's fabulous to see so many of you here today.

Today, we are all very proud of you with your immaculate turnout and bearing; but, in truth, life in the Royal Marines won’t always appear quite so smart.  Separation is part of service life. Uncertainty is common. Danger is sometimes inevitable.

Your families have encouraged you to pursue your ambitions, and they will continue to support you in the years ahead. They are part of the wider Corps family and so we in the Naval Service must support them in return, and we will.

Royal Marines Today

As for the Service you join, the long years of enduring land stabilisation campaigns in South Asia may be over.

But do not think for one moment that the responsibility that now rests on your shoulders is in any way diminished.

Thirty-five years ago this very week, my ship was under fierce air attack in San Carlos Water as we conducted the amphibious landings that delivered 3 Commando Brigade ashore to help liberate the Falkland Islands.

Amidst the heavy seas and frozen peaks of the South Atlantic, the Royal Navy and Royal Marines proved that, together, we could fight and win in the most testing circumstances, and triumph against the greatest odds.

No one knows for certain what the future holds, but for Great Britain, the sea is our frontline. The partnership between the Royal Navy and Royal Marines has rarely been more crucial to our great trading nation as it is in this so-called maritime century.

During your time in the Royal Marines, technology will continue to change how we think and how we fight.

You may find yourself serving on the largest aircraft carriers in Royal Navy history – or controlling a drone that fits into the palm of your hand.

Yet for all the impressive kit, success will rest on the same time honoured values: excellence, integrity, self-discipline and humility.

As a Royal Marine, your courage and skill, and your uncompromising pursuit of excellence, will set you apart from all others.

But do not forget that other conspicuous Royal Marine quality – cheerfulness.

It will earn you the admiration of your allies and it will confound your enemies. But, most importantly, it will keep you and those around you going when times get tough.

Conclusion

So, in drawing to a close, today is a new beginning for you. But for the Royal Marines it is the continuation of three-and-a-half centuries of unbroken service to Crown and Country.

I know that each of you has made your families proud today and you will have every opportunity to make your country and your Corps proud in the years to come.

Remember what you learnt here, and you’ll make yourself proud too.

Well done, and thank you.

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