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Royal Marines take on jungle tests in Belize

13 November 2019

ROYAL Marines have been testing themselves in jungle combat and survival during exercises in the extreme humidity of Central America.

While 40 Commando Battle Group work in the deserts of California, Zulu Company of Arbroath-based 45 Commando have headed to the more damper and stickier climes of Belize.

Throughout the deployment, heavy rain added with the extreme humidity has given the commandos an opportunity to get stuck into life in the dense jungle.

This is all part of the work 45 Commando are now doing as the Lead Commando Group, the mantle they took from 40 Commando earlier this year. 

It puts them at high readiness to deploy anywhere in the world, no matter how extreme the climate may be… hence why they must be ready for the jungle, and the Arctic for that matter. 

While Zulu concentrate on the jungle, fellow commandos of 45 are preparing for the deep freezer of the Arctic next year with mountain training in the Scottish Highlands.

But for Zulu it’s the jungle and this deployment also gave the marines a chance to experiment with the Future Commando Force concept, as the Green Berets press on with the way they will operate in combat in the coming years. 

That puts the specialist commando tactics at the forefront of their work, adding new kit and cutting-edge tech into the mix.

“It was a great experience, I was surprised how dense the jungle was in the area we were working and how difficult this made it to operate,” said Marine Will Thomas.

It was a great experience, I was surprised how dense the jungle was in the area we were working and how difficult this made it to operate.

Marine Will Thomas

“It is rainy season here which made the ground underfoot very muddy during the field firing.”

The exercise is designed to teach all exercising troops to survive, move and fight in a jungle environment, operating from small four-man teams all the way up to a 30-man troop formation. 

On arrival in Belize, all troops conducted an acclimatisation package at Price Barracks, the main base of the Belize Defence Force and the home of British Army Training Support Unit Belize (BATSUB), located just outside Belize City.

They then stepped off into the jungle, carrying out the exercises in several training areas. 

The Spanish Creek area, a small zone about 50km north of Prince Barracks, saw Zulu undergo river crossing training, before heading to Guacamallo Bridge, where the commandos built base camps and all blank, live and engineer training was carried out.

The exercising troops and training teams deployed to the jungle base camps to conduct a 14-day basic and intermediate skills packages.  

This included individual skills to survive, navigate and fight in the jungle, before moving on to eight-man section and 30-man troop level tactics, culminating in a seven-day live firing package moving from individual to troop level.  

The result of this training is that Zulu Company are now trained in jungle warfare, meaning 45 Commando can now call upon these specialists if needed in their role as Lead Commando Group. 

During the live firing package ranks from 45 Commando’s Assault Engineers also conducted a jungle demolitions package, practicing creating clearings for helicopter abseil insertions and extractions as well as emergency Helicopter Landing Sites (HLS).

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