COUNTERING CHINA – Great Britain is basing the Royal Navy further East into the Pacific to be prepared for a shooting war if needed. As part of this strategic shift, the Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth will sail through the South China Sea on her maiden voyage later this year.
According the The Sun, Vice Admiral Jerry Kyd said:
We are building a Navy to be out on the block, out on the beat, in an era of persistent competition. When deterrence fails, we can go to a shooting war very quickly indeed.
Adding to this new China focus to help counter China, the Royal Marines will be given expanded roles in ‘commando’ missions such as sabotage and deep reconnaissance. Admiral Kyd explained that “Special Operations is not now just the preserve of special forces.”
“We’re putting the vim back in the commandos to cause mayhem behind enemy lines,” he said, reported The Sun.
In the mold of the U.S. Marines’ new focus on small unit, dispersed expeditionary warfare I have written about, Brigadier Tony Turner, deputy commandant general of the Royal Marines, explained that small bands amphibious troops would use “strength and guile” – the motto of the Special Boat Service – to “cause problems for our enemies.”
I spent some time with 42 Commando Royal Marines in the 1990s. And in addition to competing with the Royal Dutch Marines for title of oldest Marines, and serving as the model for the U.S. Marines, the Royal Marines are one the world’s best band of amphibious warriors.
As a highly specialized, elite light infantry force, the Royal Marines are trained for rapid deployment worldwide. Their motto is ‘Per Mare, Per Terram’ (From Sea and Land). They are organized into a light infantry brigade (3 Commando Brigade) and a number of separate units, or battalions, including 47 Commando (Raiding Group) Royal Marines, and a company strength commitment to the SpecialForces Support Group.
3 Commando Brigade is the main combat formation of the Royal Marines. Unlike the U.S. Marines which have combined arms capabilities integrally, the Royal Marines need to be augmented by units from other military branches. 3 Commando therefore consists primarily of Royal Marines, but also includes units of Royal Engineers, Royal Artillery, and the Fleet Air Arm, along with other ‘Commando’ qualified troops from all the forces.
Like their U.S. cousins, the Royal Marines operate in every ‘clime and place’ with expertise and training on amphibious warfare, arctic warfare,
mountain warfare, and expeditionary warfare. It also forms a major part of the UK’s Rapid Reaction Forces.
Admiral Kyd added that “Commando forces are being developed, allowing us to save the highest end troops for the most demanding operations.” This will allow Britain to preserve its top-tier special operators – the Special Boat Service (SBS) and Special Air Service (SAS) for highly specific missions.
The SBS is somewhat similar to the U.S. Navy SEALS, while the SAS is the ‘godfather’ of the U.S. Army’s Delta Force.
Semper Fidelis, Royal Marines – Per Mare, Per Terram.