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Royal Marines complete rigorous training to ensure safety of the UK’s nuclear deterrent

Royal Marines of 43 Commando train in various environments to test their skills in protecting the UK's nuclear deterrent
23 October 2020
Royal Marines have completed two weeks of rigorous training in the skills needed to protect the UK’s nuclear deterrent.

The marines of 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group are held at very high-readiness year round, guarding the nuclear deterrent carried onboard the Vanguard-class submarines based at Faslane Naval Base in Scotland. 

These expert warriors must be highly-skilled in fighting in a range of close-quarter combat environments and two weeks of exercises at training areas around the UK ensured they are razor sharp for duties. 

The commandos battled in a range of complex environments and challenging scenarios that ensure they are ready to safeguard the nuclear deterrent whatever the situation.  

Major Steve Lewis RM, Officer Commanding R-Squadron, said: “Exercise Driven Defender provided R-Squadron, 43 Commando, an opportunity to conduct challenging role training in a variety of complex and novel training environments across the UK following the cancellation of the original US based version of this exercise.

 “Through a mixture of agile planning and innovative training design R-Squadron delivered realistic, high-end training whilst remaining aligned with the fluid national COVID control situation. The training activity comprising dismounted, vehicle mounted, and Helicopter Assault operations extensively tested the participating highly skilled, specialist commando forces.” 

This exercise has revalidated the high levels of knowledge, skills and ability required of each marine within R-Squadron allowing them to take their place with confidence delivering in support of the unit nuclear security mission.

Major Steve Lewis

Under the cover of darkness, troops fought through a multi-storey building in pitch blackness taking down any threats hindering their mission. 

Using every trick in their book, together with rapid, relentless and overwhelming force, the marines successfully overcame all hurdles the ‘enemy’ had for them.

Following this, the commandos moved to a former bunker in the South West where they carried out training missions hundreds of metres underground in a network of intersecting passages and railway tunnels. 

The commandos were told that a ‘high-value asset’ had been taken deep into the bunker and employing a range of their combat skills, were tasked with defeating their adversary and liberating the asset, combining technology and agile thought to produce success.

The Faslane-based marines followed this up with close-quarter battle training at Wakefield Armed Police College, moving to the target area as a Helicopter Assault Force via CH47 Chinook before clearing through buildings testing their method of entry abilities to provide operational assurance in built-up environments. 

Not resting on their laurels, the commandos moved onto their next scenario which saw an enemy preparing to fly out high-value assets. 

Observation posts were positioned and a recce was carried out on RAF Woodvale, on Merseyside, determining enemy movements and positions, calculating the best way of taking down the threat without risking the safety of the assets.

The following day at first light and again deploying as a Helicopter Assault Force via Puma helicopters, the commandos struck, taking the runway and securing the base before their adversary could leave with the stolen assets.

Quick Reaction Forces were tasked with clearing aircraft hangars and taking down well-protected enemy positions throughout the training area.

The exercise reached its conclusion with troops conducting close-quarters battle training, using simulated and live ammunition in Fort Blockhouse in Gosport.

This realistic and confined activity concluded an excellent and varied mission specific training package, ultimately assuring the security of the UK’s nuclear deterrent. 

“This exercise has revalidated the high levels of knowledge, skills and ability required of each marine within R-Squadron allowing them to take their place with confidence delivering in support of the unit nuclear security mission,” added Maj Lewis.


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