A speech given by Maj Gen Buster Howes CGRM and repeated at the "C Group" dinner 2010, Thought I'd share so the old and bold can enjoy it too. The FCOC Paper states that ‘the future agile force favours the capability of people (physical and mental robustness, flexibility and a premium on training) over platform numbers.’ The activities I have described are undertaken by extraordinarily high-calibre people The Boys and girls are Bright: Forty percent of Royal Marine recruits are educationally qualified to be officers. Over 10% have university degrees. Two currently in training have Masters degrees and when I was running the Commando Wing fifteen years ago, two fully qualified vets joined up – we only discovered this when none of their respective troops visited the Sickbay because they were being ‘physicked’ with Horse Drench and Saddle Linament. I visited 539 Assault Squadron in Plymouth a month ago and talked to a group of coxswains who were about to conduct a long navigation exercise in Off Shore Raiding Craft to the Scilly Isles. One Marine looked older than the rest and I asked him what his background was. He explained that he had joined the Corps late and had, to use his word, ‘wasted’ some time working at the ‘Hadron Collider’ – smashing atoms - as a Professor of Sub-Atomic Particle Physics. I told him not to smash my boat up! Fifty percent of my officers finish in the top ten percent at the Joint Staff College. That said, we have the lowest ratio of Officers to other ranks in the 3 Services. No, the Boys are Resilient, indeed I can reassure Julian [Professor Julian Lindley French, Eisenhower Professor of Defence Strategy, Royal Netherlands Defence Academy], that footballers aside, Tommy Atkins has not become soft - 3 weeks into 40 Commando’s recent tour Sergeant Lee Walters was caught up in an intense fire fight and was shot in the neck, the hand and the foot. He refused to be listed, and sitting up in bed, informed his anxious wife of his misfortunes himself. Incidentally, on HERRICK 5, Sgt Walters engaged in another battle, on a pitch-black night, fell down a well. Which his Mates thought – 3,000 miles from the sea- was taking a commitment to amphibious operations a bit too far. Three weeks ago Captain John White, OC Recce Troop, 40 Commando was blown up on patrol. Barely conscious, having lost both his legs and one of his arms, he sought to reassure his anxious Marines as they loaded his stretcher onto the MEDEVAC flight. “Don’t worry Boys, ‘gold’ in the Para Olympics Next!” The Corps numbers 3% of the manpower of Defence, but constitutes 37% of the badged manpower of UK Special Forces And Finally – my Boys are Imaginative and Innovated - One example: The week I became Commandant General, Recruit Phillip Cain, 6 weeks into training contracted Meningitis, despite repeated multiple amputations to stem the spread of the disease, he very quickly died. His young and still inexperienced Troop were adamant that they would carry his coffin at his military funeral and were issued with Regimental Blues four months early to do so with exemplary precision and self-control. At the 7 month point, they duly completed their four Commando Tests and were, in time honoured tradition, given their green berets at the end of the 30 Mile March on Dartmoor. Philip Cain’s father was there too and received a piece of precious green felt from Prince Michael of Kent … for in spirit and soul his boy was also a proud Commando Soldier, since his Mates, on their own initiative, had carried his ashes throughout I would suggest that whatever the future may hold, precious DNA such as this, will be of value to Her Majesty’s Government In 1803, Napoleon remarked of the Corps: ‘How much might be done with a hundred thousand soldiers such as these’ Ten.