The green berets of 40 Commando have returned home after fine tuning their skills in the US desert ahead of them taking over as Lead Commando Group next year.
For several weeks the men from Norton Manor Camp, in Taunton, relocated to the US Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Centre in Twentynine Palms, California.
With nearly 1,000 miles of hot, arid landscape, the training facilities are exactly the kind of environment the Royals might find themselves operating in.
Also taking part in Exercise Black Alligator were 31 Royal Marine Reservists (RMR) from units around the UK, including Simon Avery, who works full time for the National Trust, but joined the desert workout for two weeks.
He said: “As part of the Royal Marines Reserve on Black Alligator what I really liked was the integration, the fact that we undertook every element of the training just like the regular marines.
“As reservists we need to gain experience – the more we train and practice, the more successful we will be in operations and at the US facility we were at the forefront of training.”
Hundreds of Royal Marines decamped to the desert where they were able to take part in exercises that included; live firing with heavy guns and mortars, urban combat drills, Battlegroup sized live fire Commando raids, as well as working alongside their US and Dutch colleagues in order to develop lasting friendships.
Black Alligator 13 forms the first element of a multi-environment training package 40 Cdo will undertake in the run up to next May when they take over as Lead Commando Group.
Next they will undergo Cold Weather warfare in Norway and Jungle warfare in Gabon, as well as armoured vehicle, aviation and chemical warfare training, whilst maintaining their commitment to core amphibious tasks as part of the high readiness Response Force Task Group (RFTG).
Captain Tristan Stewart, training officer 40 Cdo Royal Marines, said:
“Black Alligator is the first exercise we have conducted prior to taking over as lead commando group next year.
“The US terrain is challenging, so it makes for an effective training tool. It was great to see our men getting the most out of this exercise.”