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Royal Marines primed for Indo-Pacific operations after intensive jungle workout

25 May 2023
Royal Marines patrolled deep into the jungles of Brunei to sharpen their ability to fight and stay alive in the sweltering humidity.

Taunton-based 40 Commando spent six weeks in the dense jungle as they prepare for operations across the Indo-Pacific later this year.

The commandos operated in oppressive and relentless 90-100% humidity in temperatures between 27-32C, initially acclimatising to their unforgiving surroundings before gradually building up to a mission in which they travelled by boat and helicopter into the thickest parts of the jungle.

There, they gained a foothold and carried out reconnaissance missions before detaining an ‘enemy high-value target’ to complete their jungle training.

“The jungle environment brings unique challenges,” said Sergeant James McKiernan RM, 40 Commando’s Jungle Warfare Instructor.

“The mass number of trees and limited visibility creates problems with even the simplest of navigation tasks, also the amount of ‘unfriendly’ flora and fauna can create numerous amounts of problems both tactically and in general.

“The heat is comparable to desert campaigning but when mixed with 80-95% humidity creates a unique sauna-like atmosphere which obviously drains a human a lot quicker than we would like.

“Difficulty in logistics means you must be laden with a vast amount of kit so that you can both survive and operate effectively with little to no resupply.”

The jungle training involved around 140 troops from 40 Commando’s Charlie Company as well as enablers from the unit’s Information Warfare Company, Armoured Support Group and 29 Commando Royal Artillery.

They were supported by British Forces Brunei, made up of the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Gurkha Rifles.

Phase one involved the commandos acclimatising to the extreme environment, understanding how to survive, navigate, gaining an understanding of jungle tactics and carrying out live firing at the ranges.

Commandos abseiled from a helicopter in a clearing to finish the opening stage, a vital skill used to get into combat across the jungle.

Phase two saw the commandos deploy into the jungle for the best part of two weeks to build on their individual skills.

The teams carried out 72-hour patrols, getting water from streams and coming into contact against an ‘active enemy’.

This phase also saw the teams practicing methods to get into battle in the jungle.

This included riverine work in small boats, which has some parallels to amphibious beach landings with which UK Commando Forces are so familiar, as well as using helicopters to abseil into clearings in the jungle canopy.

With navigation and movement by foot being particularly arduous in the jungle, such insertion methods are key to allow forces to manoeuvre more effectively.

To round off this phase, teams conducted Live Fire Tactical Training; the jungle is one of the most challenging and exciting environments for this, with visibility and movement being restricted and troops having to have increased situational awareness to effectively conduct assaults on enemy positions.

Having completed several weeks of challenging and developmental training, the teams were deployed to some of the deepest and thickest jungle that Brunei has to offer to conduct their final exercise.

They journeyed into the jungle by boat and helicopter, establishing a foothold in the jungle before proceeding to conduct patrols and build up a picture of the area and any enemy presence.

The exercise concluded with a coordinated assault onto an enemy camp to detain a high-value target, which tested not only individual and team skills, but also wider command and control over long distances using new communications equipment.

“This was my first time in the jungle, and it’s been a great experience,” said Marine Leivesley, of 40 Commando’s Information Warfare Company.

“We’ve all found it really challenging, just dealing with the heat is hard enough and you’re constantly checking yourself for leeches and insects.

“But it’s been good to be able to see this part of the world, I would never have come here otherwise. Abseiling out of a helicopter into the jungle has got to be my highlight.”

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