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Royal Marines complete Arctic preparations in the Highlands

13 December 2021
Royal Marines of 45 Commando have stepped up their preparations for the Arctic wilds with a foray into their traditional playground of the Northwest Highlands.

The Arbroath-based commandos are readying for three months in northern Norway starting next month but have first tested their mettle across the cold and wet Highland peaks. 

Based out of Cameron Barracks, Inverness, 45 Commando’s fighting companies and their comrades from Commando Logistics Regiment and the Royal Artillery’s 29 Commando 7 (Sphinx) Battery have been participating in Exercise Green Claymore.

The training was also a meeting of green berets.

The US Army’s 1-10th Special Forces Group (Operational Detachment Alpha) or ‘Green Berets’ joined the commandos – who wear their own coveted green beret to signify completion of the gruelling All Arms Commando Course at Commando Training Centre in Lympstone – as they prepare to deploy to the Arctic together.

A rigorous mountain warfare training programme saw commandos train day and night and through all weather conditions (mostly rain) under the watchful eye of the Mountain Leader Cadre, the Royal Marines who specialise in mountain and Arctic warfare.

Colour Sergeant Taylor, 45 Commando’s Mountain Leader 1, said: “To be able to survive in and fight in some of the most inhospitable conditions, commandos fundamentally have to sustain a higher level of resilience. 

“It’s an inescapable fact that this means hardening individuals through arduous training; this is exactly what mountain training offers. The progression from the basic course through to the final training exercise is rightly steep to ensure that 3 Commando Brigade can employ resilient personnel to the Arctic.”

The first week, which forms the basic course, started with a chance to refresh navigation skills whilst increasing duration and elevation of routes, with increasing weight to bear. Interspersed with the daily marches, briefs were delivered on topics such as long range communications equipment, kit preparation and mountain tactics.

For the majority of ranks who have progressed on to the advanced course, weapons and ammunition scales have been added to the already-heavy loads as the commandos have been building an appreciation for what it means to act as small teams in the challenging mountainous environment. 

Skills and tactics in mountain warfare differ from those in other environments and need to be practised to achieve success in mountain operations.

The nature of the ground sometimes presents obstacles, such as river crossings and cliff faces, and the Mountain Leaders have been demonstrating how to tackle these. Surveillance and reconnaissance training also formed an integral part of Green Claymore.

The third and final week put everything to the test in a Field Training Exercise – an opportunity for battlefield commanders to hone their tactics and strategies across the mountains while each commando has been able sharpen their own individual understanding of operating in this unforgiving environment.

The first marines will fly out to Norway shortly to begin preparations for the winter deployment in Norway.

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