UK — 45 Commando train for rapid reaction duties

More than 750 Roy­al Marines and sup­port­ing units, togeth­er with three war­ships and Sea King and Chi­nook heli­copters, have waged war in and around Gal­loway For­est Park in a week-long exer­cise to pre­pare 45 Com­man­do for front line duties.

Mem­bers of X Com­pa­ny, 45 Com­man­do Roy­al Marines, being insert­ed into the area of oper­a­tions by heli­copter dur­ing Exer­cise Scot­tish Lion [Pic­ture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
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The Arbroath-based Roy­al Marines are now the nation’s ‘Lead Com­man­do Group’, ready to deploy around the globe if required, hav­ing suc­cess­ful­ly com­plet­ed Exer­cise Scot­tish Lion. 

Fresh from tak­ing part in one of the biggest war games exer­cis­es in Europe this year, Joint War­rior, 45 Com­man­do were thrust imme­di­ate­ly into Scot­tish Lion, which saw the entire unit — more than 750 troops — put ashore south of Stranraer. 

Scot­tish Lion cov­ered ground from the ranges of West Freugh in the west to the ruins of 16th cen­tu­ry Eding­ham Cas­tle, near Dal­beat­tie, more than 40 miles (64km) to the east. 

See Relat­ed News for more images from Exer­cise Scot­tish Lion. 

After being based on heli­copter car­ri­er HMS Illus­tri­ous, flag­ship HMS Bul­wark and amphibi­ous sup­port ship RFA Mounts Bay for Joint War­rior, the entire Com­man­do Group was land­ed by heli­copters and land­ing craft on the sands at West Freugh, a for­mer RAF base now used as a mis­sile test site. 

Hav­ing estab­lished them­selves around the old air­field, the Roy­al Marines moved inland, bound for Kirkcud­bright, 35 miles (56km) away, to attack var­i­ous objec­tives, before estab­lish­ing them­selves one more time. 

As well as test­ing the men on the front line, Scot­tish Lion was a vital test of all the rear­ward ser­vices cru­cial to any oper­a­tion such as logis­tics, trans­porta­tion and casu­al­ty treatment. 

Trans­port was pro­vid­ed by Com­man­do Heli­copter Force Sea Kings and RAF Chi­nooks, while the land vehi­cles clocked up more than 5,800 miles (9,300km) mov­ing men and kit around Dum­fries and Galloway. 

The reg­i­men­tal aid post was nev­er far behind the action and every ‘casu­al­ty’ was evac­u­at­ed to it with­in an aver­age of 26 min­utes from the point of injury. 

For added real­ism, more seri­ous ‘casu­al­ties’ were even flown back to Illus­tri­ous for notion­al treat­ment with­in two hours of being ‘wound­ed’.

With Kirkcud­bright secured and 45 Com­man­do estab­lished in the small town, it was time for the final assault on Eding­ham Cas­tle with all four rifle com­pa­nies and sup­port­ing ech­e­lons of the Com­man­do Group. 

With the dilap­i­dat­ed fortress seized, Scot­tish Lion was done, bring­ing the cur­tain down on 13 sep­a­rate com­pa­ny-lev­el oper­a­tions, six heli­copter assaults and a move over land by the Arbroath Green Berets of some 60 miles (97km).

Major Richard Wal­lace, 45 Commando’s Sec­ond-in-Com­mand, said the exer­cise was the per­fect work­out for the unit ahead of their front line mission: 

“Scot­tish Lion allowed 45 Com­man­do to get back to the grass roots of what being a Roy­al Marines Com­man­do entails,” he added. 

“We expe­ri­enced the full spec­trum of con­flict dur­ing the exer­cise: from the deliv­ery of human­i­tar­i­an aid to night-time com­man­do raids against an ene­my dug into a for­ti­fied position. 

“It has set the unit up for suc­cess and we have now tak­en on the role of the Lead Com­man­do Group.” 

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK 

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