MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Royal Marines from 40 Commando Royal Marines culminated weeks of training and preparation aboard the Combat Center with an assault on Range 210 as part of Exercise Black Alligator 13, Oct. 20.
The unit arrived to the Combat Center in September and has been training to become the Lead Commando Group; the most deployment-ready commando force within the Royal Marines.
“Black Alligator is the first exercise we are conducting prior to taking over as lead commando group next year,” said Capt. Tristan Stewart, training officer, 40 Commando, Royal Marines. “There’s been a big turnover of new Marines in the unit, and we are due to take on as the lead commando starting in May 2014.”
The Marines integrated infantry, artillery and armored assets to advance and engage the targets on the range. Ground Marines, equipped with SA80 assault rifles and L7 general-purpose machine guns, tactically cleared buildings. M1 Abrams tanks and artillery crews utilizing L118 light guns engaged targets beyond the buildings.
“We do not have ranges like this back in the United Kingdom,” Stewart said. “The terrain here is challenging, so it makes for an effective teaching tool. It’s great to see the Marines getting the most with this training.”
Throughout Exercise Black Alligator, the unit had the opportunity to collaborate with Combat Center Marines as well.
“We worked alongside (1st Tank Battalion, 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, and K Battery, 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment),” said Lt. Brendan Ford, media officer, 40 Commando, Royal Marine Corps. “Our own Commando Group includes (40 Commando 24 Commando Regiment Royal Engineers, 79 Commando Battery Royal Artillery), as well as interoperability training with the Dutch Marines of 22 Company, Korps Mariniers, totaling over 830 men.”
Training will continue for 40 Commando following their departure from the Combat Center, including jungle warfare, mountain and cold weather training prior to next year’s commitments.
“The lead commando group will be going on Exercise Cougar, an amphibious deployment traveling through the Mediterranean,” Stewart said. “We’ll be pushing out next year.”
The unit is slated to return to the United Kingdom next month.