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Commandos prepare for operations on Mojave Desert training missions

26 October 2021
Royal Marines are taking on their comrades from the United States Marine Corps in the wilds of the Californian desert as they prepare for operations as part of a new task group.

A new high-readiness force, Littoral Response Group (South), is to be built around Taunton-based 40 Commando and will focus on the regions east of the Suez Canal, ready to respond to global events.

To ensure the commando element of the group are ready for deployment next year, the marines must first complete Exercise Green Dagger in the Mojave Desert alongside the US and Netherlands Marine Corps. 

The exercises across sun-scorched deserts will test the marines in a number of warfighting skills and their ability to work effectively with their Dutch counterparts who also form part of the LRG(S). 

Green Dagger will culminate in a ‘free play battle’ in which Dutch and British marines will work together against the might of the USMC to evaluate the effectiveness of each of the allied forces. 

The exercises are taking place at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Centre at Twentynine Palms, which covers an area similar in size to Luxembourg in the Californian deserts. 

Marine Sean McGrath from 40 Commando said: “This is the first time I’ve been to the States and worked alongside the US and the Dutch. Seeing how they operate and how we can work together has been really rewarding.

“It’s been fantastic to work in one of the best training environments in the world. Twentynine Palms is absolutely huge and offers pretty much every type of training possible. We can train across terrains, in cities and with so much capable kit, I can see why we come here.”

Specialists from across Commando Logistic Regiment, 30 Commando Information Exploitation Group, 24 Commando Royal Engineers and 29 Commando Royal Artillery have joined 40 Commando in the desert along with 12 Raiding Squadron of the Netherlands Marine Corps. 

The plan over the coming weeks is to stress test this commando group and refresh key soldiering skills to ensure they are prepared for full operations. 

The response group – comprising around 500 British and 120 Dutch troops – is expected to be functional next year with the addition of amphibious ships and aircraft.

30 Commando have deployed their electronic warfare and information operations experts to the US, along with Air Defence Troop whose surface-to-air missiles protect the marines from aerial attack.

Away from the main exercises in Twentynine Palms, a team from 40 Commando are heading to the Mountain Training Warfare Centre in Bridgeport, about 400 miles north. 

The commandos will form an adversary force for US Marines during a Mountain Training Exercise that will test both forces’ guile in the unforgiving surroundings.

Meanwhile the Commando Logistic Regiment is facing its own challenges as it adapt its methods to the new tactics associated with the development of the Future Commando Force. 

This includes keeping small teams of commandos spread across a wide area in all extreme of climes supplied and ready for battle.

The regiment has formed Combat Service Support Troops that deploy at range and are isolated from direct chain of command, working independently to keep supplies of food and ammunition flowing.

The troops have been established to allow CLR to be in more places at once, while also continuing to make use of the Armoured Support Troop, which provides force protection and moves marines around the battlefield. 

Additionally, CLR are also continuing to develop their 3D printing capability which helps provide battle damage repair options on the front-line.

“While on the periphery it would seem largely like the much more cumbersome and bulkier Logistic Task Group of old, it is a much smaller, more agile and potent force and is designed to deliver a more tactically astute support,” said Major Matt Williams, in command of the Landing Force Support Squadron and Logistic Task Group, of the CLR offering on Green Dagger.

“We have come a long way since starting this journey in earnest last year. We’ve seen the regiment deploy both Combat Service Support Troops and Armoured Support Troop on two separate occasions, while also preparing for the forthcoming winter deployment in Norway and generating the first troop aligned to the Littoral Response Group (South) early next year.”

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