Royal Marines from Plymouth’s 42 Commando have been expanding their worldwide combat ability by carrying out jungle training in Central America.
Lima Company conducted specialist jungle warfare training in the tropical environment of Belize in order to prove themselves as the lead-standby for extreme environment combat troops.
At its peak there were 160 Marines under training, including elements from across 3Commando Brigade HQ in Plymouth, 24 Royal Engineers in North Devon and 539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines in Devonport Naval Base, Plymouth. They were joined by Royal Netherlands Marine Corps and 8 Commando Battery Royal Artillery.
This was a rare chance for the company to prove they had what it took to complete the Royal Marine’s ability to move through a crocodile infested river with only their eyeballs and rifle breaching the waterline and to put into practice the jungle theory they were taught – to combine basic soldiering with coping with a demanding environment on land and water.
A Marines spokesman: “The exercise was a success. The quality of professional soldiering inherently improves in such arduous conditions and the morale gained from a tough few weeks together under the jungle canopy is palpable throughout the company. All-in-all, the deployment has left Lima Company in the best possible place to take up the mantle of the lead commando group’s fighting capability to fight in extreme environments.’’
The five-week exercise included learning from jungle warfare instructors to include jungle craft, specific tactics and techniques and even a visit to the zoo warn them about what unwanted wildlife could potentially make a home of sleeping bags.
A 130-metre wide river crossing gave commanders a chance to see how long it took the troops to move in large numbers across an obstacle covertly and blended seamlessly back into the jungle.
539 Assault Squadron, the small boat specialists, deployed to a creek area with their inflatable raiding crafts on the narrow jungle waterways. They practised their skills with undercover landings onto densely vegetated river banks with only the local Howler Monkeys watching.
Another of the varied training scenarios took place on the mountainous jungle of a steep gorge with the troops rehearsing what they learned in the UK about personal skills and drills from putting up a hammock, conducting full wet and dry routine in total darkness, navigating in a disorientating environment and refining weapon drills.
Marines also benefited from local Belize trackers hosting a survival day, which divulged the secrets of shelter-building, water collection, what not to eat or touch and how to trap animals for eating if needed.
From the jungle the Marines moved onto a five-day live firing exercise on a purpose-built training area and then practised this in the jungle, contrasting using munitions to clear their way through jungle with clearing with machetes.
With the hard work all but finished the Marines turned to playing hard and ended with a football tournament and organised water sports.