British Royal Marine Commando
The Royal Marines (RM) are the marine corps and amphibious infantry of the British Armed Forces and, along with the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary, form the Naval Service. They are also the United Kingdom's specialists in mountain warfare and Arctic warfare. A core component of the country's Rapid Deployment Force, the Corps' 3 Commando Brigade is capable of operating independently and is highly trained as a commando force. It can deploy quickly and fight in any terrain in the world.
The Royal Marines are a maritime-focused, amphibious, light infantry force capable of deploying at short notice in support of the United Kingdom Government's military and diplomatic objectives overseas and are optimised for operational situations requiring highly maneuverable forces. As the United Kingdom Armed Forces' specialists in cold weather warfare the Corps provide lead element expertise in the NATO Northern Flank and are optimized for high altitude operations.
In common with the other armed forces, the Royal Marines can provide resources for Military Aid to the Civil Community and Military Aid to the Civil Power operations and have done so.
Royal Marines recruit training is the longest basic modern infantry training programme of any NATO combat troops. The Royal Marines are the only part of the British Armed Forces where officers and other ranks are trained at the same location, the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) at Lympstone, Devon. Much of the basic training is carried out on the rugged terrain of Dartmoor and Woodbury Common with a significant proportion taking place at night. Before beginning Royal Marines recruit training the potential recruit must attend a Potential Royal Marine Course (PRMC) held at CTCRM. PRMC lasts three days and assesses physical ability and intellectual capacity to undertake the recruit training. Officer candidates must also undertake the Admiralty Interview Board.
Officers and Marines undergo the same training up to the commando tests, thereafter Marines go on to employment in a rifle company while Officers continue training. Officer candidates are required to meet higher standards in the Commando tests.
The first weeks of training are spent learning basic skills that will be used later. This includes much time spent on the parade ground and on the rifle ranges. Physical training at this stage emphasizes all-round physical strength, endurance and flexibility in order to develop the muscles necessary to carry the heavy equipment a marine will use in an operational unit. Key milestones include a gym pass out at week 9 (not carried out with fighting order), which shows that a recruit is ready for the Bottom Field, a battle swimming test, and learning to do a "regain" (i.e. climb back onto a rope suspended over a water tank). Most of these tests are completed with the ever present fighting order of 32 lb (14.5 kg) of Personal Load Carrying Equipment. Individual field craft skills are also taught at this basic stage.
The Commando Course
The culmination of training is a period known as the Commando course. Following the Royal Marines taking on responsibility for the Commando role with the disbandment of the Army Commandos at the end of World War II, all Royal Marines, except those in the Royal Marines Band Service, complete the Commando course as part of their training (see below). Key aspects of the course include climbing and rope work techniques, patrolling, and amphibious warfare operations.
This intense phase ends with a series of tests which have remained virtually unchanged since World War II. Again, these tests are done in fighting order of 32 lb (14.5kg) of equipment.
The commando tests are taken on consecutive days; they include;
- A nine mile (14.5 km) speed march, carrying full fighting order, to be completed in 90 minutes; the pace is thus 10 minutes per mile (6 min/km or 6 mph).
- The Endurance course is a six mile (9.65 km) course across rough moorland and woodland terrain at Woodbury Common near Lympstone, which includes tunnels, pipes, wading pools, and an underwater culvert. The course ends with a four mile (6 km) run back to CTCRM. Followed by a marksmanship test, where the recruit must hit 6 out of 10 shots at a target at 200 m. To be completed in 73 minutes (71 minutes for Royal Marine officers), these times were recently increased by one minute as the route of the course was altered.
- The Tarzan Assault Course. This is an assault course combined with an aerial confidence test. It starts with a death slide and ends with a rope climb up a thirty foot vertical wall. It must be completed with full fighting order in 13 minutes, 12 minutes for officers. The Potential Officers Course also includes confidence tests from the Tarzan Assault Course, although not with equipment.
- The 30 miler. This is a 30 mile (48 km) march across upland Dartmoor, wearing fighting order, and additional safety equipment. It must be completed in eight hours for recruits and seven hours for Royal Marine officers, who must also navigate the route themselves, rather than following a DS with the rest of a syndicate and carry their own equipment.
The day after the 30 mile march, any who failed any of the tests may attempt to retake them that day.
Completing the Commando course successfully entitles the recruit or officer to wear the coveted green beret but does not mean that the Royal Marine has finished his training. That decision will be made by the troop or batch training team and will depend on the recruits or young officer's overall performance. Furthermore, officer training still consists of many more months.
Training to be a Royal Marine takes 32 weeks (over eight months). The last two weeks is mainly administration and preparing for the pass out parade. Recruits in their final week of training are known as the King's Squad and have their own section of the recruits' galley at Lympstone.
After basic and commando training, a Royal Marine Commando will normally join a unit of 3 Commando Brigade. There are three Royal Marines Commando infantry units in the Brigade: 40 Commando located at Norton Manor Camp near Taunton in Somerset, 42 Commando at Bickleigh Barracks, near Plymouth, Devon, and 45 Commando at RM Condor, Arbroath on the east coast of Scotland.
Non-Royal Marine volunteers for Commando training undertake the All Arms Commando Course
There is also a Reserve Commando Course run for members of the Royal Marines Reserve and Commando units of the Territorial Army.
Royal Marines may then go on to undertake specialist training in a variety of skills; Platoon Weapons Instructor, Mortar operator, signaler, clerk, sniper, Physical Training Instructor, Mountain Leader, Swimmer Canoeist, chef, Landing Craft coxswain, Telecommunications Technician (Tels Tech) etc.
Training for these specializations may be undertaken at CTCRM or in a joint environment, such as the Defence School of Transport at Leconfield or the Defence Police College.
Some marines are trained in military parachuting to allow flexibility of insertion methods for all force elements. Marines complete this training at RAF Brize Norton (but are not required to undergo Pre Parachute Selection Course (P-Company) training with the Parachute Regiment).