Royal Marines 45 Commando Whiskey Coy patrolling near FOB (Forward Operating Base) Jackson, Sangin, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, by Nick Tryon (Crown Copyright 2008)

Royal Marines Future Secure in Scotland

45 Commando Remain in Arbroath

45 Commando Royal Marines will remain in Arbroath, according to the UK’s Secretary of Defence, Sir Michael Fallon. Sir Michael’s announcement came as he watched a battle demonstration at Arbroath as 45 Commando begin training to play a lead role in NATO’s Very High Readiness Group from 2018. This will see them working and training with allies, and place them at the forefront of an international emergency should any arise.

Defence Secretary Commends 45 Commando

Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon said:

Our Royal Marines are at the heart of Britain’s global role as we do more to support our NATO allies. Their future in Scotland is secure, with those based at Arbroath deployed on ships all around the world as well as working with our European partners to tackle illegal immigration in the Mediterranean, which helps save lives and keep our United Kingdom safer and more secure.

On the visit, Sir Michael Fallon awarded two Royal Navy ranks serving with 45 Commando their Long Service and Good Conduct Medals (LSGC). Petty Officer (Chef) Ian Dixon and Petty Officer (Medical Assistant) Jamie Jackson received their medals in recognition of having maintained perfect military records for 15 years. The men are originally from Lancashire and Derbyshire.

Earlier this month, 45 Commando led 400 of their fellow commandos from the Royal Marines’ three main fighting units into the snow and sub-zero temperatures of the Scottish Highlands as they honed winter warfare skills ahead of deploying to northern Norway. In Scandinavia, the Marines can expect temperatures as low as -30˚C, much colder than the -12˚C experiences on the slopes of the Highlands.

45 Commando: From Arbroath to Helmand

The unit moved to Arbroath and RM Condor in 1971 after spending much of the 1950s and 1960s deployed. Their 1982 Falklands Campaign saw major action with the capture of Two Sisters Mountain, which shaped modern Commando, mountain and cold weather warfare. The Unit deployed to Iraq in 2003 on Operation TELIC 1, and to Afghanistan on various Operation HERRICK deployments in 2006, 2008, 2011 in Sangin, Nad Ali and Helmand Province. In addition to 650 commandos, 45 Commando employs 30 MOD civilians.

RM Condor

45 Commando base, RM Condor, was first built as a Fleet Air Arm base in 1938, when it was known as RNAS Arbroath (HMS Condor). It was opened on 19 June 1940. From the outset it was a training base, primarily involved in the training of naval aviators. A purpose-built ‘aircraft carrier’ sized landing area was constructed on the airfield and it, along with another similar facility at nearby East Haven, Angus, HMS Peewit was used to train aircrew in deck landing operations. In October, 1940, the base was attacked by Luftwaffe He-111 bombers, operating from Norway, which resulted in minor damage (then valued at £1000) being sustained to some Squadron buildings. Throughout the war years the base was additionally used as a rest area. Operational Squadrons from aircraft carriers would take it in turn to spend rest periods whilst their ships were undergoing maintenance at Scottish Naval ship repair facilities.

Flying stopped in 1954 and the base became the home of the Royal Navy Aircraft Engineering Training School which had transferred from HMS Daedalus at Lee-on-Solent, Hampshire. It continued in this role until 1 April 1971 when the base became the home to 45 Commando Royal Marines, a part of 3 Commando Brigade.

The base was thereafter known as RM Condor or Condor Barracks and remains an operational base to this day. Also stationed here are 7 (Sphinx) Battery Royal Artillery, 2 (City of Dundee) Signal Squadron, and No. 662 Volunteer Gliding Squadron RAF.

Also in Scotland: 43 Commando, Protecting the UK’s Nuclear Deterrent

The other Royal Marine presence in Scotland is 43 Commando who are based at Her Majesty’s Naval Base (HMNB) Clyde where they protect the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent. Both units are part of the Royal Navy’s elite amphibious infantry who are ready to deploy at short notice both at home and overseas.

Scotland’s Key Role in UK Defence

The UK is investing £178bn in a decade long equipment programme.  The UK Defence budget has a “double lock” which ensures that it will rise every year by at least 0.5% annually, above inflation and always exceed 2% of GDP.

The UK Government is firmly committed to the future of Defence in Scotland and its continued vital role in Defence. Scotland is home to military bases that provide essential capabilities for the Defence of the UK as a whole. By 2020, Scotland will be home to all of the Royal Navy’s submarines, one of the Army’s engagement and resilience Infantry Brigades, one of three RAF fast jet main operating bases and new P8 Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft.

Image: Royal Marines 45 Commando Whiskey Coy patrolling near FOB Jackson, Sangin, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, by Nick Tryon (Crown Copyright 2008).
Description: Members of Whiskey Company, 45 Commando Royal Marines patrolling across barren landscape from FOB (Forward Operating Base) Jackson at Sangin in Helmand Province in Afghanistan, 2008. The Patrol weaved its way through some difficult terrain due to the weather change to the winter months. The rainfall has increased and turned ploughed fields into mud baths therefore making life slightly more difficult for the Marines.