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Royal Marines warm up for Arctic freezer

6 December 2019
Royal Marines have been warming up for the deep freezer of the Arctic Circle by testing their winter mountaineering and vertical assault skills.

A mix of commandos, Army and Royal Navy ranks headed to Snowdonia National Park to undergo eight days of arduous mountain training to make sure they are physically and mentally ready for the extreme cold and harsh terrain of Norway in the New Year. 

At the same time marines from 30 Commando Information Exploitation Group undertook vertical assault and abseiling at the iconic Dewerstone Rock on Dartmoor in preparation for thier own Arctic missions. 

Already, commandos have started to arrive in Norway to undertake the cold weather warfare course hundreds of miles inside the Arctic Circle ahead of significant exercises in the region in early 2020. 

From January until March they will be testing their combat and survival skills in temperatures as low as -30c, living in the wilderness but also tearing across fjords in small boats on commando raids deep into the mountains.

That will eventually lead to NATO war games Exercise Cold Response, where marines will launch amphibious raids onto the Nordic coast by sea and from the air. 

Before any of that can happen, though, the marines, sailors and soldiers of 3 Commando Brigade must be able to master one of the most unforgiving regions known to man.

That makes the workouts in Snowdonia and Dartmoor an essential before stepping off to the high north. 

“Mountain Training in Snowdonia has provided us with a range of unique and useful skills, and the opportunity to work with the Royal Marines in an interesting and varied environment,” Lance Corporal Nabil Toumi said.

“It has also given us the chance to work in one of the most beautiful and picturesque parts of the country, and experience some of the best mountain ridges and scrambles the area has to offer. It will be a vital in preparing the unit for deployment to Norway in the New Year.”

Mountain Training in Snowdonia has provided us with a range of unique and useful skills, and the opportunity to work with the Royal Marines in an interesting and varied environment.

Lance Corporal Nabil Toumi

The commandos use the difficult mountainous terrain to test basic skills such as navigation and casualty evacuation alongside vertical assault and river crossings, which are specialist skills unique to the Royal Marines.

Vertical assault training is used to pass vertical obstacles, whether it be a cliff face or a mountainous feature inland. The skill uses advanced climbing and abseiling techniques to cross the obstacle undetected and catch the enemy unaware.  

The technique was developed by the first commandos during World War Two, to launch raids against German forces behind enemy lines. Modern technology has improved the equipment used but the basic principal has changed very little since the first commandos.  

Mountain training is carried out annually in both Scotland and North Wales to ensure the marines are fully prepared to deploy to the harsh Arctic environment of Norway to conduct warfare training.  

The marines have a long history of operating in mountainous and Artic environments, stretching back to the Cold War era, when the commandos were tasked with holding the Northern flank.

Lance Corporal James Mundy said: “Brigade Mountain Training has been a great opportunity for all ranks to work together from different units and cap badges. It has given other units a chance to see how Royal Marines operate in a cold weather and mountain environment.” 


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