Future leaders of the Royal Nay’s elite amphibious infantry are training in the depths of the wilds of Scotland.
Deep in the Argyll Forest the Royal Marines young officers are on Exercise Final Nail, the culmination of 15 months of training turning civilians into junior commando leaders.
They are hoping to pass out of training for their first role to direct the actions of a troop of Royal Marines in any situation at sea or on land.
Some 30 would-be officers, under the direction of the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines in Lympstone, Exmouth, Devon, had reached this stage of their instruction – regarded as the most demanding ‘basic’ training of any military unit in the world.
Senior training officer Major Tony Hulse said: “Exercise Final Nail is not only designed to test the military skills gained by our young Royal Marines officers but, also to reaffirm their inter-personal, communication and management skills required to become efficient and effective leaders of men – in particular to command Royal Marine Commandos.”
Final Nail is designed to confirm the young officers are fit to command a close-combat troop before earning their coveted green berets and passing out of Lympstone next month.
The exercise was spread over four different training areas, each demanding different tactical considerations. The exercise began with a troop amphibious beach assault at Braunton Burrows in north Devon.
The trainees then shifted to the west coast of Scotland to conduct a company attack on to an airfield, before carrying out riverside operations in Galloway Forest.
They then moved even further north for the climax of the exercise – amphibious raids around Ardgartan at the tip of Loch Long and the surrounding woods of Argyll Forest Park, followed by a final attack: a simultaneous company-led assault on hill-top enemy positions, set against the spectacular barren backdrop of Gare Loch.
Throughout the exercise, the young officers had fully-trained Royal Marines to work with and used: offshore and inflatable raiding craft from 10 Training Squadron Royal Marines. They were also guided by experienced mountain leaders advising on vertical cliff assaults and marines from 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group to form a company for the larger-scale manoeuvres in the forest.
Once they’ve passed out, the majority of the officers will be deploying to Afghanistan on their first tour of duty.