Royal Marines have looked back to their commando roots as they experiment with how they will operate on the battlefields of the future.
During World War Two, commandos did their bidding in the shadows – disrupting enemy supply lines, destroying infrastructure and making daring smash and grab raids before silently extracting.
Royal Marines are on a constant mission to evolve and as part of that are taking inspiration from the past but with a modern, cutting-edge, twist.
More recently, the elite Green Berets have been involved in more conventional fighting than their forebears but as they look ahead to becoming the Future Commando Force, they are also looking to learn from the past.
During a two-week mission on the exercise areas on Salisbury Plain, marines of Taunton-based 40 Commando have worked on stealthy tactics on urban and rural assaults.
This is part of Commando Warrior Two, which is a the second iteration of a series exercises this year which focus on the evolution of the Royal Marines and the kit they use.
On Salisbury Plain, the marines used dismounted situational awareness pads; a ruggedised tablet designed to give troops on the ground access to footage from a combination of unmanned aerial vehicles feeds and GPS overlays.
They also used specialist radios, which enhance commandos’ ability to communicate during battle, before each phase of the exercise was scrutinised for its successes and failures.
“Commando Warrior Two is the second phase of an exercise series where we are looking at Future Commando Force as a concept,” said Major Jack Anrude, Officer Commanding, Bravo Company, 40 Commando.
“We’re going back to our origins as a commando and the operations they conducted. Right at the epicentre of the commando ethos is commando mind set – we’re first to understand, we’re the first to adapt and the first to overcome.
“Looking at the current operating environment and looking to the future we’ve identified ways where we can increase and enhance the way we do business.
“Commando Warrior Two wasn’t primarily focused on integrating new bits of equipment. However, we did introduce the dismounted situational awareness pad.
“We also included the Single Purpose Radio which allows us to have more effective communication across the battlefield.
“Following the successes of Commando Warrior One and Two we are now fine tuning how we best use that equipment, looking at introducing unmanned aerial systems, mobility assets and cutting-edge communication technology to make sure we are the most efficient on the battlefield.”
On Commando Warrior Two, 40 Commando’s fighting companies battled against other, force-on-force. Troops experimented with new technology and how teams of marines are structured.
Traditional commando objectives were set and they were tasked to fight through villages held by a seemingly superior force and clear ‘enemy’ bridges before blowing them up.
The marines were matched by an equal opposing enemy force and, with a team playing local civilians in the urban areas, it added a level of realism to reflect the future situations the commandos could find themselves in.
Each objective was repeated, allowing for the effectiveness of each of the experiments to be measured – both in terms of technology and team structure.
Following each objective, the assessors were able to analyse the effectiveness of their experiments with detailed after-action reviews.
Commando Warrior Three will take lessons from One and Two and weave in new technology.