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Royal Marines in action from dawn till dusk in Oman as Swift Sword strikes

26 October 2018
By sea. By land. By rope. By landing craft. By helicopter. By Viking. Bye bye enemies.

Royal Marines have kicked off the largest joint military exercise of the year in the Middle East with a series of raids and assaults to stir up the sands of Oman.

The men of 40 Commando are leading the Royal Navy’s involvement in Saif Sareea 3 with the forces of the Sultanate of Oman – the largest such workout for the two allies’ military since 2001 and the second iteration of the exercise.

After several weeks of mustering kit and personnel around the new port of Duqm, Saif Sareea 3 (Swift Sword 3) has moved into the live/action phase.

A dawn raid on the Omani coastal radar installation at Ras Markaz, just outside Duqm, was the curtain-raiser to the climax of Saif Sareea 3

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While their 45 Commando comrades are shivering in the Arctic North training US Marines and taking part in NATO’s huge Trident Juncture exercise, the Taunton-based green berets of 40 are at the forefront of the amphibious assaults staged in Oman.

A dawn raid on the Omani coastal radar installation at Ras Markaz, just outside Duqm, was the curtain-raiser to the climax of Saif Sareea 3 – once specialist Royal Navy clearance divers had paved the way, searching the shoreline for explosive devices.

The commandos and Omani troops came ashore by raiding craft then speed marched 12 kilometres across arid, sun-scorched terrain to storm the facility with pinkish smoke swirling around as the attackers marked their advance and signalled to comrades in the air and out to sea.

Further along the coast the commandos attacked from above as Charlie Company, 40 Commando, abseiled from a rocky outcrop on to enemy positions below.

The radar station attack is one of two amphibious raids lined up for the climax of the exercise, which is an extensive workout for RN units across much of the spectrum of warfare: amphibious landings, commando raids, logistical support, minehunting, artillery and naval gunfire support – the 4.5in main gun of HMS Dragon has been breathing fire and fury – battlefield engineering, armoured warfare, and air defence… to name a few.

Assault ship and UK flagship HMS Albion is the hub of an Amphibious Task Group which will comprise destroyer HMS Dragon, minehunters HMS Blyth and Ledbury, plus their support/command ship RFA Cardigan Bay, amphibious support vessel RFA Lyme Bay and the military ferry MV Anvil Point.

The tip of the amphibious spear is provided by the Royal Marines of 3 Commando Brigade and numerous constituent parts from the elite amphibious infantry of 40 Commando (based in Taunton), intelligence and information warfare experts of 30 Commando and gunners of 29 Commando Royal Artillery (both from Plymouth), 24 Commando Royal Engineers and Commando Logistic Regiment (both based at Chivenor in north Devon), landing craft/raiding craft specialists of 539 Assault Squadron (Devonport) and the Dorset-based armour of the Viking Squadron.

The exercise is intended to reinforce the long-standing and close military relationship between Britain and Oman, taking the level of co-operation and ability to provide security and safeguard prosperity in a vital part of the world.

“We’re really getting into the swing of it now – working with our friends from the Royal Army of Oman and showing them the Commando way,” said Commodore James Parkin, Commander UK Amphibious Task Group, in charge of the RN element of Saif Sareea 3.

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