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Royal Marines at the centre of reinvigorated efforts in the Gulf

19 December 2022
Royal Marines assaulted the craggy, mountainous shores of the tip of the Arabian Peninsula as part of reinvigorated British training in the Gulf this autumn.

Marines of Taunton-based 40 Commando joined Omani allies on the Musandam Peninsula for a series of rigorous joint exercises.

The sparsely-populated region juts out into the Strait of Hormuz – the narrow gateway to the Gulf and a chokepoint through which a third of the world’s oil supplies passes every day.

That makes the peninsula, which covers an area half the size Hampshire, but is inhabited by little more than 30,000 people, of key strategic importance.

The aim of Exercise Musandam Fort, which also involved desert survival and mountain warfare training, was to bring Omani and British forces closer together and was part of a wider effort, which included more than a thousand troops across the country.

The British Army operated with Omani forces in Duqm at the joint training area at the same time HMS Lancaster arrived in the Gulf to continue permanent Royal Navy operations in the Gulf and Middle East after HMS Montrose completed a four-year deployment there.

The training was a key moment as Royal Marines prepare to be persistently deployed in the Middle East region and beyond into the Indo-Pacific from next year. Being forward based, utilising the UK’s Joint Logistics Support Base in Duqm, will allow them to work closely with allies and partners and react to emerging crises.

It’s also a part of the UK’s commitment to regional security and stability, especially around the Strait of Hormuz.

“The UK remains committed to security across the Gulf, and our engagement with Musandam Fort clearly demonstrates our commitment to the Omanis as invaluable partners,” said Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Dow, Commanding Officer of 40 Commando Royal Marines.

“It also enables us to sharpen our tactical edge through joint training and access to some world-leading exercise areas.”

 

Marines of 40 Commando were joined by 59 Commando Squadron Royal Engineers – specialist combat engineers of 24 Commando – and operated closely with the Royal Army of Oman, Omani Special Forces and the Oman Parachute Regiment. 

Together they learned to operate seamlessly together across the unforgiving landscape, working on tactics in amphibious and mountain warfare.

“Integrating with the Royal Army of Oman has provided a fantastic opportunity to work with our partners, developing our relationships and share tactical knowledge,” said Captain Bradley Jones, second in command of 40 Commando’s Bravo Company.

“The opportunity to train in the mountains of the Musandam Peninsula is one I will never forget.”

The joint commando and Omani force landed soon before sunrise on Musandam’s shoreline, forging inland and living and operating together from a remote mountain base. 

Tactical exercises started early each morning and increased in intensity each day, testing the combined forces across the difficult terrain. 

It was a test of new communications equipment – which are designed to create powerful, secure networks anywhere in the world – as small teams of around 12 operated far from each other to complete objectives. 

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