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Army Commandos


Just lifted this from Arrse where I'm sure the debate will start soon.

Personally I think it's elitism as it's worst, but what the hell do I know. Thoughts?

Marines pour scorn on Army commandos
By Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondent
(Filed: 10/04/2006)

A battle has broken out over the role of the first Army commando unit to be formed since the Second World War, with the Royal Marines claiming that the infantry lack "the suitable calibre" to join their force.

While the Marines believe they are doing the Army a good turn by saving an infantry battalion from cuts, senior soldiers have said that they are bringing the under-manned commandos up to full brigade strength. The new unit will be formed when two infantry regiments are amalgamated next year to become 1 Bn The Rifles.

Soldiers from the Devon and Dorsets and the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry are already conducting extra physical training in preparation to become part of the Royal Marines tough 3 Commando Brigade, which at its core has three formations of about 550 men each.

The battalion's officers and men have been unable to hide their excitement at joining the commando brigade but they will be disappointed at the role the Marines have proposed for them.

Under plans seen by The Daily Telegraph, the wartime role of 1 Rifles will be to protect rear head quarters and supply depots and guard prisoners of war. At best they will be allowed to defend a port or oil refinery after it has been stormed by Marines in helicopters or assault landing craft.

"There is the option of them coming across as fully fledged commandos with the same kind of equipment and training as us," a senior Marine officer said.

"But it's a non-starter as the Army don't have the right calibre of people to do that and we don't have the capacity or space to train a battalion of 600 men."

The Army formation will also be used as 3 Commando's "roulement" battalion, fulfilling its slots of mundane six month tours in less popular operations such as Kosovo, Northern Ireland or Iraq while the Marines unit would be kept in high readiness for specialised operations. "What we have at the moment is a highly capable organisation being essentially out of the picture for almost 12 months used on these tours," the senior Marine officer said.

"We want to keep the three commando units for what they are there are best at - as an expeditionary force that can also support special forces."

While the Marines believe it is "not an option" for the soldiers to become a fully fledged commando unit, senior Army sources have indicated that, although in the short term 1 Rifles will take a back seat role, within three or four years they will be fully commando trained and equipped.

"Our view is to get stuck in and become commandos but the Navy seem to have rather backward approach where they see them as poor second cousins who will free up the commandos to go off and do special operations," an Army source said.

A source from an infantry unit criticised the Marines' attitude towards their potential new commando colleagues.

"What they are proposing, essentially giving us rear security, would be intolerable," he said.

"No commanding officer of a battalion of line infantry, having served in Afghanistan and Iraq, would accept that under any circumstances.

"I also find it amazing that they think raw recruits from the Royal Marines would be of a higher calibre than a soldier who has completed three or four very tough operational tours."

The new unit will come under Royal Navy command but will be paid for by the Army.


Will this sort of acrimony - particularly as it's in the media spotlight - benefit either the Army or Royal Marines? Personally, I doubt it. Army Commandos were 'up to it' in the Second World War, why not now?
There are signifiant problems with the integration of 1 Bn Rifle into 3 Cdo Bde. It will not be a surprise to anyone that most of these issues are driven by cost. So the two problems:
1. We do not have the capacity in terms of instructors or facilities to Cdo train a full Btn. The course would have to be run at CTC to have integrity - outside of Ex FAST BALL during the foot and mouth CTC really is the only option. We could do something bespoke for volunteers from among the 5 Btns of the RIfle and then take those that pass. However is a 15 yr Tp Sgt really the right person to be taking Cdo Tests? WOuld we not break people for no reason? Ultimately the logistical and financial difficulties of selecting and then training 600 people of the correct ranks to make the unit fully Cdo trained are insurmountable. A long term policy where new joiners attend may well be the way foreward. Who will pay though? Navy will not, and the Amry certainly won't.
2. THe second major problem is the fundamental difference between an Army FAS Infantry Btn and a Cdo unit. That is manning and equipment. The army unit is 200 pax less than a Cdo unit, they are in a different Orbat (3 Rifle COy and a support Coy not Cdo 21) and do not have the same amount of equipment (.50 Cal, Javelin, 81mm and WMIC) as a Cdo unit. THerefore the Army are always going to be the poor cousin of the 3 Cdo units unless the Army decides to man and equip them like a Cdo unit.

These issues are much more problematic than posturing in the media about quality of candidates.

Of more interest perhaps is that the influx of this unit plus the increase in size of the engineer unit means that for the first time Army ranks will outnumber RM ranks in 3 Cdo Bde. Is this the Army taking over the RM? (Or the RM taking over the Army?)
40, 42, 45, UKLFSG, 539 ASRM, CLR vs. 29, 59 and 1 Rifles...

Royal just edges it methinks...

To a slightly more serious point, I don't think it would be necessary to a) train up all of 1 Rifles in a one-er and b) if the Corps aren't willing to make an effort to have these guys and welcome them into the "Commando fold", then I don't really see the point about it all. In fact, there is probably no need for the Rifles to do the Commando Course, just the Amphib phase and Commando tests. To get the guys to a point where they can do this 1 Rifles are perfectly capable of running extra phys sessions and getting the LC branch down to give them some initial hints.

As for the ORBAT issues, I think this is a bit of a red herring; the 3rd Inf Battalion within 16AA doesn't have the same kit as the Para's, indeed they have a distinctive role (TALO if my memory serves). What Brigade need to do is find that distinctive role for 1 Rifles; and that doesn't include doing all the gash jobs! Helo assault is one that immediately springs to mind; long range raids etc etc.

Finally, 3 Cdo Brigade is not JSFSG - Royal already has a contribution to that, so the claim that they are just about "Special Operations" is frankly chuff....
I absolutely aggree with the points you make ALfred. Although i would dissagree that the 3rd Inf Btn in 16AA is anything other than a poor relation. THere is no need for Cdo training in one go. My view would be that hopefully we draw from all the Btn of the rifle in time and those that want to do the AACC come down and give it a whirl, if successful they get a place in 1 Bn. In time the Unit will be nearly all Cdo Trained. I feel this is quite important from an espirit de Corps perspective. The unit wil also have to take its turn on board ship on ARG deployments, to do this there will need to be a healthy exchange programme of HQ officers and SNCOs to make it work - imagine the carnage of an amphib deployment otherwise!

Getting on and off landing craft is really not a problem is it? It is one day at Poole in training during recruit and AACC. SO that is never going to be an issue. The problem is that the 1 Rifles will not be packing the same 'punch' as a cdo unit due to numbers and equipment. So the Bde will not square, it will be a lopsided triangle/rhombus

Overall i think the addition of 1 Rifles is a real opportunity for the Bde. It is a chance for us to define our role into the next decade. However the detail of integration offers some serious problems. I would like to see the equipment and manning issue solved - but we will just have to work round it. I would lie to see the whole unit Cdo trainined - but they won't be - so we will just have to work round it.

THey will need an urgent course on showers and bathing before deploying on board ship.

Weclome on board stinking perse.
redshank said:
Will this sort of acrimony - particularly as it's in the media spotlight - benefit either the Army or Royal Marines? Personally, I doubt it. Army Commandos were 'up to it' in the Second World War, why not now?

Army Commandos in WW2 volunteered to be Commandos. Is this a mass compulsory volunteer exercise? Like National Service many say bring it back! You cannot make a soldier out of a person who does not want to be a soldier. Hence the reason British Forces are the best in the world. Would this not apply to making a infantry soldier into a compulsory Commando. Many would pass but many would fail.

I do remember somebody few years back putting forward a idea about making the course easier or not failing recruits who where only dipping out on things like say ten minutes over on the speed march. The answer was No!! The course is set long live the course.

It will be interesting to see what happens


If Perse (The army) /Government /HM Forces are so keen to form the 1 bt rifles in the Commando role........i think it a great idea and can only be positive for the Corps. Whatever way they are trained and by who ( Only Royal Marines i must say) and in whatever location who cares, its well above any payscale earner on this site to even worry about.

No matter what fancy method they will be trained and bolted onto 3 CDO BGD there will always be THEM and US ( the latter RM). What ever level you want to comment on this remember the under lined highlighted quote.

Send them up too FPGRM in Scotand which will enable RM who have been trained through CTCRM and wear the coverted Green with no Skeletons in the locker to be intergrated within 3 CDO BGD where they belong.
I think that unless they become a full time 'commando' regiment it will lead to a dilution of the role the RM fulfill. Yes they should wear the Green Beret, after they have earned it, and only those who have earned get to play 'up front'.

I have no doubt it can be done, it will take time though and I suspect that some of those currently in the Rifles will never qualify, and that they will probably have to change their recruiting standards as well.


It loks like it is going to be the Devon and Dorsets joining the mighty 3 Cdo Bde. ALready based in SW and emphasises the SW as the 'Amphibious centre of gravity'.


War Hero
Not ''swinging the lamp'' too much lads but my sqn went on telic 1 with 3 CDO , we are Cavalry (QDG) and after two weeks of constant enemy contact the Brigadier(JIM [email protected]@@@N ) gave us all the commando dagger for our combats . We didnt carry out AACC or anything but as a mark of respect it was nice to get that presented . As a full on pongo the best unit i have every worked with was the Royal marines . Non of your ''ego'' para crap , the royals looked upon us as equals and for that they get my upmost respect . cheers it was hoofing!
Cheers for the Panzers Deeps. Didn't much fancy taking on any form of Tank with a trusty Milan (Tracking, tracking, LOST - wire broken) and .50 Cal.

I would happily swop the Btn of D&D for a Sqn of Panzers - a little more punch for our little amphibous force! It was god to take some armour to USA on Aurora as well. Even if the beaches and weather were non-cooperative.

Is it true that the D Sqn lads are no longer allowed to wear their Bde Flashes as presented by Brig Jim?


War Hero
It was C SQN QDG so no panzers just Scimitars , however we did give 3 CDO plenty of fire power . A top bunch were the Royals and we are looking forward to working with you boys again . Yes we had to remove our ''commando'' daggers as soon as we got back to UK . A real shame and as many of us felt , a bit of an insult to the Royals . It was down to a bit of jelousy we all think .
We also got a Sqn of SDG at one stage when the 'counter attack' came down from AL Faw town. Not sure if they ended up with daggers or not.

Seems a bit petty not to let C Sqn keep the emblem. THat is the sort of thing that build ethos and heritage. Look at the PWRR and thier little french thing they wear. Not an official medal, but everyone wears it. It strikes me that the shoulder flash was given in good faith for excellent work (The track change in front of the date palms with BRF!) and while presented to individuals it should cascade down through the Sqn. 50 - 100 years time when we are all long gone none of the lads will be reading the war diary - but they would remember the battle if they wore the flash.

A little bit of imagination and a miniture shoulder flash could easily be sorted... fancy a bit of staff work?


Living here in the Colonies, I do not profess to have too much knowledge of this latest debate, but I can add some points that may have people re-thinking their positions.

Until 1956? not all Royal Marines were commando trained. One was trained as a Royal Marine, thereafter, if they were required for service in a commando unit they completed a commando course. I can't think of any major operation during my time where we did not rely on artillery, armoured, engineer or air support from the other services, and they were good at what they did.

When the decision was made to have designated artillery batteries and engineer squadrons, there were similar concerns being aired. Yes, there were teething problems initially, but as today's RM will concede, the RA and RE commando trained people attached to the Corps fit in very well.

This latest proposal will take time, but I think that it will eventually work out to be quite satisfactory. Having said that, Royal Marines will always be Royal Marines.

Andy O.


Andy.. You questioned the year (1956) I am not certain of the actual year that Commando Training became compulsory for all RM Recruits, but it was in effect in 1954 when I did my training. Aye Morse


Hi Morse,

I stand corrected. Hence the question mark, the old memory is not what once it was. :lol:

Andy O.


A question for floppy jocky. Firstly i would like to say thanks for bringing this topic up for debate. I find the feedback intresting from the responses but am intrested why you think this is, quote" Elitism at its worst".

I would expect any regiment or unit to have an identical response on this topic and historically it has. I don't brand myself with the elitism title but the general public are precieved by this.

People vote in the masses. They support and title organisations to make them comfortable in their day to day living. "Elitism at its worst" i think not but "Caution at its greatest".

Regards my friend



CDOX wrote; "[No matter what fancy method they will be trained and bolted onto 3 CDO BGD there will always be THEM and US ( the latter RM). What ever level you want to comment on this remember the under lined highlighted quote.

Send them up too FPGRM in Scotand which will enable RM who have been trained through CTCRM and wear the coverted Green with no Skeletons in the locker to be intergrated within 3 CDO BGD where they belong.[/quote]

Sorry CDOX but your talking Bollox, do the RM look upon 59, 29, 131, QDG, JCBRNR, etc as them and us. No because they have been accepted as proffesional organisations with a deserved place in the ORBAT. Yes it will take time to produce an AACC trained Bn, yes there will be some suspicious looks, yes there will be the unwillingnes on the part of some to accept them but as you said, a 4th manouevre unit can only be a good thing for the Bde. When was the last time the Bde was able to deploy with 3 full Units (I mean together rather than split as on TELIC 1) Its been a long time I believe and this extra CDO UNITrather than an Inf Bn could be a boon. Integration may not be that difficult if you remain open minded (ask the guys in Dover!).



War Hero
Ref ''IN_MY_DAYS'' he is spot on . One of the things that so impressed my unit (QDG) on telic 1 was the acceptance of all ranks in the RM . We were use to paras with there''Hat'' crap yet the royals were a good bunch of blokes who gave us a bit of respect . Its a known fact that the average Royal Marine is a lot more switched on and more battlespace aware than your average para .So i am sure after the initial ''banter'' whatever army regiment is attached to the RM they will be made welcome


As I said previously. Similar discussions went on when the Brigade were about to receive designated artillery batteries and engineer squadrens. As will be seen, they are very much accepted as part of the Brigade. If there is any elitism, and I say IF, it is with the commando trained RA and RE people who view themselves differently from their other RA and RE counterparts.

I also mentioned that it was sometime in the 50s before all RM ranks were commando trained. I would not have wished to be the one to tell a non commando trained RM that he was inferior. In the days of the blue beret marine and the green beret marine, we were referred to as cabbage heads by our blue beret collegues. When one returned from commando service, and join a RM establishment, one had to remove their green berets and replace it with a Royal Marines beret.

This latest policy will have it's teething problems, but they will eventually be ironed out.

Andy O.
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