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Royal Marines master jungle ambushes during Hawaii mission

18 January 2023
Under the cover of darkness Royal Marines carried out ambushes in the rainforests of Hawaiian paradise island Oahu during intensive jungle exercises with the US Marine Corps.

Marines from 40 and 47 Commando have spent five weeks more than 7,000 miles from home operating in the Pacific island’s dense wilderness – patrolling, covertly carrying out reconnaissance missions and ambushing the ‘enemy’ as they refined and refreshed techniques for jungle warfare.

The jungle – like the Arctic or desert – is an environment the Royal Marines have come to master, with generations of commandos learning how to survive and fight in one of the world’s most hostile climes during training that often takes place in Brunei or Belize. 

With 40 Commando increasingly geared to operating across the Pacific, they have branched out and carried out exercises in Guam last year with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and now Oahu with 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

At the same time jungle training was taking place, the small boat raiding experts from Plymouth-based 47 Commando carried out amphibious training, including familiarising themselves with the USMC’s small raiding craft and conducting day and night beach reconnaissance training in Kaneohe Bay.

The jungle mission started at Camp Pendleton – the major USMC base in California – where lectures took place before flying west to Oahu.

Techniques and experiences were shared between the marines before shooting and movement drills – plus demonstrations on abseiling – prepared troops further for their foray into the wilderness.

The first few days in the jungle involved patrolling, navigation, break contact drills and ambush exercises – for some 40 Commando marines this was the first time they had operated in this environment.

“The new environment took a bit of getting used to, as the standard skills and drills we’re all so familiar with were made much more challenging in the jungle,” said Marine Luke Ruston.

Two teams of seven commandos were given orders to move to two observation posts, patrolling through the jungle and observing their target overnight.

Once information was gathered, the teams combined to ambush their ‘enemy’ along the track they’d been observing. 

Nighttime covert reconnaissance tasking followed as they gathered information on a route for a larger force to move through.

Mne Ruston added: “We moved quickly over the difficult terrain and fought through thick jungle. 

“After 48 hours on target, we covertly patrolled from the target area, linked again with the other team under the cover of darkness and made it to our pickup point for first light.”

After a short break to explore Oahu, with trips to the famous north shore, Waikiki beaches and a visit to the Pearl Harbor Museum and USS Arizona memorial, the commandos headed back into the jungle for their final exercise.

The commandos were given free reign of a mock Middle Eastern villages at the USMC’s training area in Bellows, located on the south eastern side of the island, complete with a marketplace and props, actors playing civilians and ‘enemies’ including high value targets.

“We practiced close quarters battle techniques, room entries and building up eventually to compound clearing with the full team, before being given several different scenarios that we had to deal with, including linking up with local elders, building assaults and high value target recovery,” said Mne Ruston.

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