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Commando logisticians test new ways of operating

27 May 2021
Logistics experts have been testing ways to keep supplies flowing to Royal Marines as they operate deep in enemy territory on future missions.

Chivenor-based Commando Logistic Regiment (CLR) are tasked with getting ammunition and rations to 3 Commando Brigade wherever they are operating, no matter how extreme the climate or remote the location.

With the arrival of new tactics that will see commandos start to operate in small dispersed teams, CLR are adapting to guarantee the supplies do not dry up when it matters most. 

The shift in tactics will see commandos return to being raiders from the sea, disrupting an adversary using new kit to help them on their missions deep behind enemy lines.

It is a shift that poses many questions to CLR who spent the last few weeks on Exercise Green Dragon in Cornwall and Wales working with 40 Commando Royal Marines, 29 Commando Royal Artillery, 24 Commando Royal Engineers and helicopters from Commando Helicopter Force and the Royal Air Force on how they support these commando teams. 

Lieutenant Colonel Rob Jones RM, Commanding Officer of CLR, said: “Exercise Green Dragon has really tested how we are going to deliver logistics to the Future Commando Force, which is of course very different. 

“What we are trying to do is to sustain a force that is isolated by design. It has to be deep inside enemy territory and has to be dispersed to survive, because if you mass force on a battlefield you’ll get wiped off the face of the earth. 

“So it’s a very difficult type of force to try and sustain and the real challenge for us, over the course of this exercise, is working through the details and understanding of what sustainment looks like in the future, and how we support a dispersed force with what is fundamentally a really big logistical organisation.”

Exercise Green Dragon began just north of Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, at former air station RAF Davidstow Moor where the logisticians refreshed some of their essential skills before things ramped up across the Sennybridge training area and Pembrey Sands in Wales. 

At Pembrey, CLR set up a forward arming and refuelling point for missions on Sennybridge. 

Teams from 40 Commando were dispersed across various locations in two waves by Chinooks from RAF Odiham, carrying full kit and taking with them quad bikes to move rapidly across the battlefield. 

Charlie Company’s Officer in Command, Major Richard Mackie, said: “We’re trying new communication techniques and equipment and also experimenting by giving teams more mission command; giving people more difficult tasks at longer range and really seeing how far we can push the boundaries.”

40 Commando’s teams were linked up via new communications technology to the Commando Tactical Operations Centre operating round the clock at the unit’s base, Norton Manor Camp in Taunton.

It was then up to CLR to keep their missions supplied, looking at altering their usual ways of working to adapt.

“We are exercising changes, from basic pieces of equipment to how we operate in the field,” said Lt Col Jones.

“Some of these were rolled out in Bodmin on the first phase of the exercise. It’s all about making these changes, it can be from how we supply food to the troops, to how we provide medical cover to the brigade. 

“For instance we are halving the weight of rations, taking seven days’ worth, from 14 kilogrammes down to seven. It sounds small but when you multiply that to a whole task group it’s massive. We are also changing how we deliver medical support. 

“We have a really clever bit of technology that allows surgeons on the battlefield, to reach back to consultants in the UK with an artificial intelligence overlay, allowing them to operate with support from experienced medical specialists remotely. It’s a really combat-enhancing capability.”

All of this was valuable experience for 40 Commando as they planning Exercise Green Dagger in California later this year.

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