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Royal Marines reservists on exercise in California

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A group of Royal Marines reservists has recently taken part in Exercise Black Alligator 13 in the Mojave Desert in California.

Royal Marines from Alpha Company, 40 Commando, on exercise in the Californian Mojave Desert [Picture: Petty Officer (Photographer) Sean Clee, Crown copyright]
Royal Marines on exercise in the Californian Mojave Desert

The 31 reservists joined their full-time colleagues from 40 Commando Royal Marines for the major workout at the US Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Centre in Twentynine Palms.

Marine Matt Vickers is a student from Exeter and also a member of Royal Marines Reserve (RMR) Bristol. He deployed on Black Alligator 13 attached to Delta Company.

He said:

Taking part in exercises like this gives reservists the opportunity to use the equipment and the weapons systems that we are trained on but rarely get to use in the UK. Here we have a massive area in which to practise and build our confidence and skills.

Royal Marines commandos drag an 'injured' colleague to safety
Royal Marines commandos drag an 'injured' colleague to safety during an early morning attack [Picture: Petty Officer (Photographer) Sean Clee, Crown copyright]

As a full-time student, Marine Vickers needs to balance his studies with the demands of being in the Royal Marines Reserve, but he finds the time in his busy schedule:

I may be a reservist but that doesn’t make me any less of a marine as we all undergo the same training, we’re all motivated and keen to get the job done,” he said. “I’m extremely proud to wear the green beret.

Also on the 935-square-mile desert range was Marine Pete Madden, a member of RMR Merseyside’s Manchester detachment working with Alpha Company.

Back in the UK, the Royal Marines reservist is also a church youth worker on Teesside. He said:

I’ve been a reservist for 3 years now and exercises like Black Alligator are ideal as we get a lot of training into a relatively short period of time.

We are always kept busy on exercise and because we’re fully integrated into 40 Commando we never feel that as reservists we are in some way different. We just get on with the exercises and all of the training we have received quickly comes back to us.

Royal Marines commandos on exercise
Royal Marines commandos on exercise in the Mojave Desert [Picture: Petty Officer (Photographer) Sean Clee, Crown copyright]

Exercise Black Alligator 13 saw more than 800 full-time and reserve marines from 40 Commando and the RMR and Dutch marines deployed to the USA.

Next year will see the men of 40 Commando take over as the UK’s high readiness Lead Commando Group – a contingency force able to deploy anywhere in the world at very short notice.

Major Innes Catton, the Officer Commanding Alpha Company, said:

Training and validation of this nature are vital to ensure the combat readiness of the Lead Commando Group.

When you have reservists alongside you see how successfully the RMR works as there’s no extra effort required with the reservists – they’re all turbo-enthused.

Royal Marines commandos and an American M1 Abrams tank
Royal Marines commandos attack enemy positions with support from an American M1 Abrams tank [Picture: Petty Officer (Photographer) Sean Clee, Crown copyright]

The next opportunity for a large scale RMR deployment will be Norway in March 2014 when they will undertake cold weather training alongside the regulars of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines.

The UK reserve forces play a vital part in our nation’s defence. Find out how you can get involved and what is on offer for reserves.

Published 30 October 2013