Royal Marines Mud Run (Crown Copyright, 2011)

Royal Marines “Under Review”

Robert Magowan Remains Commandant General to Oversee Changes to Royal Marines

The Commandant General of the Royal Marines has been asked to delay promotion to a new role “to ensure continuity at a time when capabilities are under review”, according to reports.

Major General Robert Magowan was appointed Commandant General Royal Marines in May 2016 and is believed to have been about to take up a senior job at Navy Command.

Maj Gen Magowan announced that:

“The First Sea Lord has asked me to continue to be Commandant General Royal Marines, despite moving to a new role, to ensure continuity at a time when capabilities are under review.”

Rumours have been circulating that there will be a cut in the Royal Marines’ manpower and that the Royal Navy’s two amphibious assault ships – HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark – will be scrapped in an attempt to balance the defence budget.

Maj Gen Magowan is reported to have said that the proposed cuts were “speculation”, but now says that he is “personally engaged” in the review process.

One area that Maj Gen Magowan is known to champion is the formation of a new coastal defence force to meet developing threats to UK security. In a leaked document seen by the Express, he wrote:

We are no longer heavily committed to land-centric campaigns in the Middle East and Asia. Tomorrow’s operating environment is likely to be complex. This requires defence to continue to adapt its structures. I have championed the re-roling of 42 Commando as the Maritime Operations Commando.

Proposed cuts to the Royal Marines must put such plans at risk and by extension leave the UK exposed.

Giving evidence to the Commons Defence Committee on December 5, Lieutenant General Sir Robert Fry said that the Royal Marines were among the “finest infantry in the world” and accused the government of “inviting them to fail”. Former Royal Marine commanders have described the suggestion to axe some 1,000 Royal Marines as “utter folly”.

Lord West, former First Sea Lord, has warned that if rumours are correct, then “this would mean the end of a UK amphibious capability and effectively end the Royal Marines,” according to a government research briefing.

Image: Recruits from 128 Troop are put through their pace on the infamous Mud Run. The run is designed to improve strength, stamina and build teamwork skills of potential Royal Marine Commandos. The notorious training exercise takes place along the estuary of the River Exe close to the Commando Training Centre, Lympstone, UK. (Crown Copyright, 2011)