Royal Marines (RM) are the
marine corps and amphibious infantry of the United Kingdom and, along with the Royal
Navy and Royal Fleet
Auxiliary, form the Naval
They are also the United Kingdom's specialists
in amphibious warfare
the operation of landing craft
; mountain warfare
; and Arctic warfare
. A core component of
the country's Rapid Deployment
Force, the Corps's 3 Commando Brigade is capable of operating independently and is highly
trained as a commando
It is trained to deploy quickly and fight in any
terrain. The Royal Marines have one of the longest basic infantry
training courses in the world.
The Royal Marines are a maritime-focused, amphibious, light infantry
force capable of deploying at
short notice in support of the United Kingdom Government's military
and diplomatic objectives overseas and are optimised for
operational situations requiring highly manoeuvreable forces.
United Kingdom Armed Forces'
specialists in cold weather warfare
the Corps provide lead element expertise in the NATO Northern
Flank and are optimised for high altitude operations.
In common with the other armed forces, the Royal Marines can
provide resources for Military Aid to the Civil
and Military Aid to the Civil
operations and have done so.
Command, control and organisation
The overall head of the Royal Marines is Her
Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
in her role as Commander-in-Chief
of the British Armed
The ceremonial head of the Royal Marines is the Captain General Royal Marines
(equivalent to the Colonel-in-Chief
of a British Army regiment
). The current Captain-General is Prince Philip, Duke of
Full Command of the Royal Marines is vested in the Commander-in-Chief Fleet
(CINCFLEET) with the Commandant-General Royal
, a Major-General
within the CINCFLEET staff as Commander UK Amphibious Force
Structure Royal Marines
The highest rank available within the Royal Marines is that of
, though at present there are no
officers above the rank of Lieutenant-General
The operational capability of the Corps comprises a number of
-sized units, of which three are
designated as "Commandos":
With the exception of the Fleet Protection Group and Commando
Logistic Regiment, which are each commanded by full Colonel
, each of these units is commanded by a
the Royal Marines, who may have sub-specialised in a number of ways
throughout his career.
also a Mountain Leader Training
Cadre based at Stonehouse Barracks,
3 Commando Brigade
Operational Command (OpCom) of the three
Commandos and the Commando Logistics Regiment is delegated to
Brigade Royal Marines, of which they are a part. Based at Stonehouse
Barracks, the Brigade exercises control as directed by either
CINCFLEET or the Permanent Joint Headquarters.
As the main combat formation of the Royal
Marines, the Brigade has its own organic capability to support it
in the field:
- *CSG Headquarters Troop
- *Signals Squadron
- :*Two HQ satellite
- *Brigade Staff Squadron
- *Support Squadron
- :*Brigade Patrol Troop
- :*Electronic Warfare Troop (Y Troop)
- :*Air Defence Troop
- :*Tactical Air Control Parties
- :*Police Troop
- *Logistics Squadron
- :*Motor Transport Troop
- :*Catering Troop
- :*Stores Troop
- :*Equipment Support Troop
The Brigade also holds OpCom of attached army units from Royal Artillery
1 Bn The Rifles
came under OpCom of the
brigade from 1 Apr 08.
The independent elements of the Royal Marines are:
Protection Group Royal Marines is responsible for the security
of the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent and other
security-related duties. It also provides a security detachment at
the Northwood military headquarters near London; as well as
specialist boarding party support for the Royal Navy worldwide, for
roles such as embargo enforcement, counter-narcotics and
counter-insurgency activities of the Royal Navy. It is
commando-sized, however the structure differs to reflect its role;
it bears the colours, battle honours and customs of the former 43
Training Centre: This is the training unit for the entire corps,
and consists of three separate sections:
- Commando Training Wing: This is the initial basic commando training section for new
recruits to the Royal Marines, and the All Arms Commando Course.
- Specialist Wing. This provides specialist training in the
various trades which Marines may elect to join once qualified and
experienced in a Rifle Company.
- Command Wing: This provides command training for both officer and NCO of the Royal Marines.
Royal Marines Landing Craft exercise.
A Royal Marines Special Boat service.
Royal Marines landing craft helo extraction.
- 1 Assault Group Royal
Marines: Provides training in the use of landing craft and boats, and also serves as a
parent unit for the three assault squadrons permanently-embarked on
the Royal Navy's amphibious ships.
- 4 Assault Squadron—
- 6 Assault Squadron—
- 9 Assault Squadron—
- Royal Marines Band
Service provides regular bands for the Royal Navy and provides
expertise to train RN Volunteer Bands. Musicians have a secondary
role as field hospital orderlies.
Personnel may not be commando trained, wearing a blue beret instead
of green; the band service is the only branch of the Royal Marines
which admits women.
Structure of a Commando
The three Commandos are each organised into six companies
, further organised into
- Command Company
- Main HQ
- Tactical HQ
- Reconnaissance Troop (includes a sniper section)
- Mortar Troop (9 Barrels of 81 mm) (Includes 4 MFC
- Anti-Tank (AT) Troop (Milan—to be replaced
by Javelin ATGW)
- Medium Machine Gun Troop
- One Logistic Company
- A Echelon 1 (A Ech1)
- A Echelon 2 (A Ech2)
- B Echelon (B Ech)
- Two Close Combat Companies
- Company Headquarters (Coy HQ)
- Three Close Combat Troops (Troop HQ, 3 Rifle Sections,
Manoeuvre Support Section)
- Two Stand Off Companies
- Company Headquarters (Coy HQ)
- Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) Troop (0.5" heavy machine guns)
- AT Troop
- Close Combat Troop
In general a rifle company Marine will be a member of a four-man
, the building block of commando
operations. A Royal Marine works with his team in the field and
shares accommodation if living in barracks.
This structure is a recent development, formerly Commandos were
structured similarly to British Army light Infantry Battalions
. During the restructuring of the United
Kingdom's military services the Corps evolved from a Cold War
focus on NATO's Northern Flank towards a
more expeditionary posture.
Amphibious Task Group
Formerly known as the Amphibious Ready Group, the Amphibious Task
Group (or ATG) is a mobile, balanced amphibious warfare
force, based on a
Commando Group and its supporting assets, that can be kept at high
readiness to deploy into an area of operations. The ATG is normally
based around specialist amphibious ships, most notably , the
largest ship in the British fleet. Ocean
was designed and
built to accommodate an embarked commando and its associated stores
and equipment. The strategy of the ATG is to wait "beyond the
horizon" and then deploy swiftly as directed by HM Government. The
whole amphibious force is intended to be self-sustaining and
capable of operating without host-nation support. The concept was
successfully tested in operations in Sierra Leone.
Commando Helicopter Force
The Commando Helicopter
forms part of the Fleet Air
. The force comprises four helicopter squadrons and is
commanded by the Joint
. It consists of both Royal Navy
(RN) and Royal Marines personnel. RN
personnel need not be commando trained. The Commando
Helicopter Force is neither under the permanent control of 3 Commando
Brigade nor that of the Commandant General Royal Marines
but rather is allocated to support Royal Marines units as
It uses both Sea
transport and Lynx
to provide aviation support
for the Royal Marines.
Training and selection
Royal Marines recruit training is the longest basic modern infantry
training programme of any NATO combat
troops. The Royal Marines are the only part of the
British Armed Forces where
officers and other ranks are trained at the same location, the
Commando Training Centre Royal
Marines (CTCRM) at Lympstone, Devon.
the basic training is carried out on the rugged terrain of Dartmoor and Woodbury Common with a significant proportion taking place at
Before beginning Royal
Marines recruit training
the potential recruit must attend a
Potential Royal Marine
(PRMC) or Potential Officer Course (POC) held at CTCRM.
PRMC lasts three days and assesses physical ability and
intellectual capacity to undertake the recruit training. Officer
candidates must also undertake the Admiralty Interview Board
Officers and Marines undergo the same training up to the commando
tests, thereafter Marines go on to employment in a rifle company
while Officers continue training. Officer candidates are required
to meet higher standards in the Commando tests.
The first weeks of training are spent learning basic skills that
will be used later. This includes much time spent on the parade
ground and on the rifle ranges
history of the Royal Marines is also highlighted through a visit to
Marines Museum in Southsea, Hampshire.
training at this stage emphasizes all-round physical strength
in order to develop the muscles
necessary to carry the heavy equipment a
marine will use in an operational unit. Key milestones include a
gym passout at week 9 (not carried out with fighting order), a
test, and learning to
do a "regain" (i.e. climb back onto a rope suspended over a water
tank). Most of these tests are completed wearing fighting order of
32 lb (14.5 kg) of Personal Load Carrying
. Individual fieldcraft
skills are also taught at this basic stage.
The Commando course
The culmination of training is the Commando course. Following the
Royal Marines taking on responsibility for the Commando role
with the disbandment of the
at the end of World
War II, all Royal Marines, except those in the Royal Marines Band Service
complete the Commando course as part of their training (see below).
Key aspects of the course include climbing
, and amphibious warfare
This intense phase ends with a series of tests which have remained
virtually unchanged since World War II. Again, these tests are done
in full fighting order of 32 lb (14.5 kg) of equipment.
The Commando Tests are taken on consecutive days and all four tests
must be successfully completed within a seven day period; they
- A nine mile (14.5 km) speed march, carrying full fighting order,
to be completed in 90 minutes; the pace is thus 10 minutes per mile
(6 min/km or 6 mph).
- The Endurance course is a
six mile (9.65 km) course across rough moorland and woodland
terrain at Woodbury Common near
Lympstone, which includes tunnels, pipes, wading pools, and
an underwater culvert. The course ends with a four mile (6 km)
run back to CTCRM.
Followed by a marksmanship test, where the recruit must hit 6 out
of 10 shots at a 25m target simulating 200 m. To be completed in 73
minutes (71 minutes for Royal Marine officers). Originally 72
minutes, these times were recently increased by one minute as the
route of the course was altered.
- The Tarzan Assault Course. This is an assault course combined with an aerial
confidence test. It starts with a death
slide (now known as The Commando Slide) and ends with a rope
climb up a thirty foot near-vertical wall. It must be completed
with full fighting order in 13 minutes, 12 minutes for officers.
The Potential Officers Course also includes confidence tests from
the Tarzan Assault Course, although not with equipment.
- The 30 miler. This is a 30 mile (48 km) march
across upland Dartmoor, wearing full fighting order, and additional safety
equipment carried by the recruit in a daysack. It must be completed in eight hours
for recruits and seven hours for Royal Marine officers, who must
also navigate the route themselves, rather than following a DS (a
trained Royal Marine) with the rest of a syndicate and carry their
After the march, any who failed any of the tests may attempt to
retake them up until the seven day window expires. However if a
recruit fails two or more of the tests, it is unlikely that they
will be given a chance to re-attempt them.
Normally the seven day schedule for the Commando Tests is as
- Saturday - Endurance Course
- Sunday - Rest
- Monday - Nine Mile Speed March
- Tuesday - Tarzan Assault Course
- Wednesday - 30 Miler
- Thursday - Failed test re-runs
- Friday - Failed test re-runs
Completing the Commando course successfully entitles the recruit or
officer to wear the coveted green beret
but does not mean that the Royal Marine has finished his training.
That decision will be made by the troop or batch training team and
will depend on the recruit's or young officer's overall
performance. Furthermore, officer training still consists of many
Training to be a Royal Marine takes 32 weeks. The last week is
spent mainly on administration and preparing for the pass out
parade. Recruits in their final week of training are known as the
King's Squad and have their own section of the recruits' galley at
basic and commando training, a Royal Marine Commando will normally
join a unit of 3 Commando
Brigade. There are three Royal Marines Commando
infantry units in the Brigade: 40 Commando located at Norton Manor Camp near Taunton in Somerset, 42 Commando at Bickleigh Barracks, near Plymouth, Devon, and
Commando at RM
Condor, Arbroath on the coast of Angus.
Non-Royal Marine volunteers for Commando training undertake the
All Arms Commando
There is also a Reserve Commando Course run for members of the
Royal Marines Reserve
Commando units of the Territorial Army
Marines may then go on to undertake specialist training in a
variety of skills; Platoon Weapons Instructor, Mortar operator, signaller, clerk, sniper,
Instructor(PTI), Mountain Leader, Swimmer Canoeist, chef, Landing Craft coxswain, Telecommunications Technician (Tels Tech), Assault Engineer
for these specialisations may be undertaken at CTCRM or in a joint
environment, such as the Defence School of Transport at Leconfield or the Defence
Some marines are trained in military parachuting
to allow flexibility of insertion
methods for all force elements. Marines complete this training at RAF Brize
Norton (but are not required to undergo Pre Parachute Selection Course training with the
Current Weapons and Equipment
The Royal Marines operate a diverse range of vehicles, weapons and
See main article: Landing craft of the Royal
Traditions and insignia
The Royal Marines have a proud history and unique traditions. Their
colours (flags) do not carry individual battle honours
in the manner of the regiments
of the British Army but rather the "globe itself" as the symbol of
The badge of the Royal Marines is designed to commemorate the
history of the Corps. The Lion and Crown denotes a Royal regiment.
King George III
conferred this honour in 1802 "in consideration of the very
meritorious services of the Marines in the late war."
The "Great Globe itself" surrounded by laurels was chosen by
King George IV
symbol of the Marines' successes in every quarter of the world.
laurels are believed to honour the gallantry they displayed during
the investment and capture of Belle Isle, off Lorient, in April–June
"Gibraltar" refers to the Siege
of Gibraltar in 1704.
It was awarded in 1827 by George
IV as a special distinction for the services of four of the old
Army Marine regiments (Queen's Own Marines, 1st Marines, 2nd
Marines, 3rd Marines). All other honours gained by the Royal
Marines are represented by the "Great Globe". As a consequence,
there are no battle honours displayed on the colours
of the four battalion
sized units in the corps.
When referring to individual Commandos: 45 Commando is referred to
as "four-five" rather than "forty-five commando" as is 42 Commando,
40 Commando is "forty".
The only units which carry colours are 40 Commando, 42 Commando, 45
Commando, and the Fleet Protection Group (which is the custodian of
the colours of 43 Commando).
The fouled anchor, incorporated into the emblem in 1747, is the
badge of the Lord High Admiral
that the Corps is part of the Naval
Per Mare Per Terram
("By Sea By Land"), the motto of the
Marines, is believed to have been used for the first time in
The regimental quick march of the Corps is A Life on the Ocean Wave
while the slow march is Preobrajensky
, awarded to the Corps by
Admiral of the Fleet Earl Mountbatten of Burma on the occasion of
the Corps's tercentenary in 1964. Lord Mountbatten was Life Colonel
Commandant of the Royal Marines until his murder by the IRA in
Dress headgear is a white Wolseley pattern pith helmet
surmounted by a ball, a distinction
once standard for artillerymen. This derives from the part of the
Corps that was once the Royal Marine Artillery.
Marines are one of six regiments allowed by the Lord Mayor of the City of
London to march through the City as a
regiment in full array.
This dates to the charter of
recruiting parties of the Admiral's Regiment of 1664 to enter the
City with drums beating and colours flying.
For historical information regarding Marine uniforms, see
History of the
The modern Royal Marines retain a number of distinctive uniform
items. These include the green "Lovat" service dress worn with
Coveted Green Beret, the dark blue parade dress worn with either
the white Wolseley pattern helmet or white and red peaked cap, the
scarlet and blue mess dress
and non-commissioned officers and the white hot-weather uniform of
the Band Service.
Order of Precedence
As the descendant of the old Marine Regiments of the British Army
, the Royal Marines used to have a
position in the Order
of the Infantry; this was after the 49th Regiment
of Foot, the descendant of which is the Royal
Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment
the Royal Marines would have paraded after the RGBW. This is
because the 49th Foot was the last Regiment raised prior to the
formation of the Corps of Marines as part of the Royal Navy in
1755. In 2007, the RGBW was amalgamated into a large Regiment—this
new Regiment is placed last in the order of precedence, as it is a
regiment of rifles. However as a result of the new Army
amalgamations the Royal Marines have now been removed from the
Infantry order of precedence and will now always take post, as a
constituent part of the Naval Service, at the head of the parade
alongside the Navy, or alone if the Navy are not represented. Thus,
if only the infantry is represented, the Royal Marines would parade
before the Grenadier Guards
senior infantry regiment in the Army.
- United Kingdom Defence Statistics 2005 Glossary
- http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/royalmarines/ Royal Marines home
page on Royal Navy website
- DCI Gen 271-01 dated 19 October 2001
Other Units of the Royal marines on Royal Navy website
- http://www.onceamarinealwaysamarine.co.uk/cdo21.htm Extract
from The Globe & Laurel November/December 2000
Commando Units To Be Reshaped, Navy News article
Commando Helicopter Force webpage
Weapons & Equipment: Royal Marines
- A Brief Chronology of Marines History
1664-2003, Royal Marines Museum
- Historical Records of the Buffs, East Kent Regiment, 3rd
Foot, Formerly Designated the Holland Regiment, by H. R.
- The Whitefoord Papers; Being the Correspondence and Other
Manuscripts of Colonel Charles Whitefoord and Caleb Whitefoord,
from 1739 to 1810, by Charles Whitefoord, Clarendon press,
1898. Searchable full text available on-line at Google Books.
Charles Whitefoord served in Wynyard's (4th Marines), Gooch's, and
the 5th Marines in the 1740s.
- Historical record of the Royal marine forces, by Paul
Harris Nicolas, Thomas and Boone, London, 1845. Searchable full
text available on-line at Google Books.
- Per Mare, Per Terram: Reminiscences of Thirty-two Years'
Military, Naval, and Constabulary Service by William Henry
Poyntz, Economic Print. & Publ. Co. (1892). Searchable full
text available on-line at Google Books.
- Britain's sea soldiers : a history of the Royal Marines and
their predecessors and of their services in action, ashore and
afloat, and upon sundry other occasions of moment, by Cyril
Field, Liverpool:The Lyceum Press, 1924, (2 vol.) Covers British
Marines until around 1900.
- Britain's Sea Soldiers: A Record of the Royal Marines
during the War 1914-1919, by General Sir H.E. Blumberg,
Devonport, 1927. Very detailed with excellent maps. The USMC used
the maps from this book for their studies of Gallipoli in the 1920s
and 30s that led to the formation of US amphibious doctrine in
- By Sea and Land by Robin Neillands, 1987, Cassell
Military Paperbacks, ISBN 0-304-35683-2. Traces the history of the
Corps until the end of the Falkands Campaign in 1982.
- Uniforms of the Royal Marines by Charles Stadden,
1997, ISBN 0-9519342-2-8