Commandos from 131 Independent Commando Squadron Royal Engineers, an Army Reserve squadron which provides engineering support to 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, took part in a 2-week exercise at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia, USA.
Exercise Red Dagger 14 involved 65 commandos in total working alongside 60 marines from the US Marine Corps (USMC) and focused on integration between the 2 units and cross-training on US weapons and equipment.
Major Mark Normile, officer commanding 131 Commando, said:
The challenges of this exercise have tested everyone involved. This is a unique opportunity to train our reservists and prepare them to deploy and work alongside our US colleagues. It also provides everyone with an experience they won’t forget.
For Sapper Dan Lansley, aged 20, this was his first overseas exercise with 131 since passing the commando course in May. He said:
It’s been great working with the US marines. The highlight of the exercise so far has been the helicopter landing site, where we used heavy plant, chainsaws and explosives to clear a 100-metre-square area of dense forest for Osprey helicopters to use.
Training ranged from small arms and heavy weapons familiarisation shoots to demolition ranges. And it wasn’t just the British reservists who took something away from this overseas exercise.
Captain Ethan Akerberg, operations officer of Engineer Company C from 6th Engineer Support Battalion USMC, highlighted the benefits:
We’re used to working alongside other forces, especially in Afghanistan, but this is the first time we’ve operated with the Brits in such a close manner.
We have planned and executed this exercise in unison, and our soldiers and marines, operating in mixed squads under some very challenging conditions, have bonded very well.