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Royal Marines look to the future as new head takes the reins

30 April 2021
The job of re-forging the Royal Marines into a hi-tech raiding force continually deployed around the globe today changed hands.

Lieutenant General Robert Magowan becomes Commandant General Royal Marines – the most senior officer in the Corps – after Major General Matt Holmes handed over the role at a supersession ceremony at the Commando Training Centre in Devon today.

Lt Gen Magowan takes charge as the Royal Marines embrace new technologies and tactics, and lay down plans to be a constant presence in strategically important areas of the world as part of Future Commando Force developments. 

“For centuries the Royal Marines have gone about their business, doing the hard yards with an understated courage and pride,” Lt Gen Magowan said.

“To be amongst them, a part of them, encouraging them to go a bit further, climb a bit higher, is a tremendous personal honour for me, and it always will be.

“As I take over as Commandant General, the Royal Marines are once again adapting and responding to new adversarial threats and wider challenges. 

“The Future Commando Force is an exciting and wholly appropriate manifestation of that adaptability. It signals a future based on persistent presence, dispersal, and an even closer maritime integration. 

“I am proud to tell people that I have been the head of our Corps, always said with a quiet humility, and so I will be again.”

The ceremony at Lympstone – where civilians are turned into Royal Marine ranks and officers in one of the longest and most demanding training courses in any of the world’s armed forces – was attended by First Sea Lord, Admiral Tony Radakin, Deputy Commandant General Royal Marines, Brigadier Tony Turner, 3 Commando Brigade’s commander Brigadier Richard Cantrill and Colonel Simon Chapman, the Commandant of the training centre.

Maj Gen Holmes departs after nearly two years at the helm.

He said: “These are exciting times for the corps. Our Commando Force, suitably equipped and persistently forward deployed, offers an enticing future for all Royal Marines.

“I’d certainly join to do it all over again and much of that is because of the quality of people we attract then train rigorously. 

“It’s been an enormous privilege to serve you all and our wonderful, wider Corps Family as an immensely proud Commandant General Royal Marines. Thank you. 

“We must remain ready to deliver operational excellence, as we do every day, to reinforce our global reputation and remind our adversaries when necessary.”

As I take over as Commandant General, the Royal Marines are once again adapting and responding to new adversarial threats and wider challenges. The Future Commando Force is an exciting and wholly appropriate manifestation of that adaptability. It signals a future based on persistent presence, dispersal, and an even closer maritime integration.

Lieutenant General Robert Magowan

First Sea Lord, Admiral Tony Radakin said: “I congratulate General Matt Holmes for his sterling leadership of the Corps over the last two years, and wish General Rob Magowan every success as he assumes the mantle of CGRM.”

Lt Gen Magowan joined the Royal Marines in 1989 after reading chemistry at Southampton University.

He has served in Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and was second in command of 42 Commando during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The 53-year-old has worked in the Cabinet Office, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence, with a particular focus on intelligence. 

He deployed to Helmand Province in Afghanistan during his command of 30 Commando Information Exploitation Group and was later Chief of Staff of the National Contingent Commander in Kabul, Commodore Naval Personnel Strategy and then Commander Joint Forces Intelligence Group.

Lt Gen Magowan became Commandant General Royal Marines, for the first time, and Commander United Kingdom Amphibious Forces in 2016. He also assumed command of the European Union Naval Force Somalia. 

He has been Deputy Commander UK Strategic Command since January 2020. 

 

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