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Royal Marines head on training raids in Australia

9 July 2021
Royal Marines have carried out raids on sun-scorched beaches in North Queensland at the beginning of a busy deployment alongside allies in Australia.

Bravo Company of Taunton-based 40 Commando landed from helicopter carrier HMAS Canberra – flagship of the Royal Australian Navy – alongside troops of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, in the Cowley Beach Training Area, nearly 10,000 miles away from their Somerset home.

The commandos attached to the Australian light amphibious infantry to form a ‘pre-landing force’ designed to secure beaches and beachheads to clear the way for larger amphibious forces to land ashore.

The green berets and A Company of the 2nd Battalion carried out patrols before Chinooks and landing craft brought in waves of troops, armoured vehicles and artillery to shore for the main thrust inland, all with Australian Tiger attack helicopters in support overhead.

It marks the commandos’ return to Australia’s eastern coast to continue their work started in 2019, when they also attached to the 2nd Battalion.  

The marines swam 400 metres to shore in the waters of the Coral Sea from their landing craft and patrolled into the wilds of the training area, which is in a 19-mile zone on the Queensland coastline and also includes Lindquist Island, one of a string of protected islands in the region.

The commandos were ashore three days ahead of the main force completing their missions and worked in small 12-man teams on a range of intensive training scenarios, before later launching raids via Chinook alongside A Company from HMAS Canberra later in the exercises, known as Sea Explorer. 

This was all part of preparations for the upcoming Exercise Talisman Sabre, which is Australia’s largest war-fighting exercise that takes place every two years.

On the sun-scorched terrain and on idyllic beaches, the commandos are spending part of the Aussie winter, in which temperatures can still reach 27°c, attaching themselves to the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment and training with allies from the USA, Canada, Japan, Republic of Korea, and New Zealand.

Talisman Sabre has been scaled back this year because of Covid-19 guidelines, with a maximum of 2,000 troops from outside Australia taking part in the exercises around the Shoalwater Bay Training Area and Townsville - around 150 miles south of where the marines have been training so far. 

“The deployment will give Bravo Company the opportunity to work with their Australian counterparts and other allies, allowing us to strengthen relationships, test each other’s skills and lay the foundations for future joint operations,” said 40 Commando’s Lance Corporal Miller.

Talisman Sabre will include amphibious landings, field and logistics training, urban operations, air combat and maritime exercises.

Bravo Company completed preparations for going Down Under with a mountain training and tactical exercise around Garelochhead in Scotland, including climbing Beinn Ime and Ben Vorlich. 

LCpl Miller said: “The aim was to practise our navigation, teamwork and mountain skills while summiting these peaks.

“Over the two days we were fortunate enough to experience some of the most breath-taking views in the UK and also experience every type of weather Scotland had to offer.”

The arduous exercises also included working in small 12-man teams – a part of the evolving way in which Royal Marines’ are working – for the first time for many of the marines and using small drones to assist in making battlefield decisions. 

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