Royal Navy FOST Mobile Training Team from Devonport, joined HMS Invincible for NBC and Damage Control training (Crown copyright, 2005) [880]

Ex Toxic Dagger Prepared Royal Marines for Op MORLOP

40 Commando Trained to Deal with Skripal Poisoning

40 Commando Royal Marines and The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) have staged the UK’s biggest annual exercise to prepare troops for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) operations. Exercise TOXIC DAGGER is supported by Dstl, along with Public Health England (PHE) and The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), and is the largest exercise of its kind in the country.

Specialists in CBRN from Dstl and AWE are able to create realistic exercise scenarios based on the latest threat information. Completing the training and exercising against these scenarios provides a challenging programme for the Royal Marines to demonstrate their proficiency in the methods to detect, assess and mitigate a CBRN threat.

The three-week programme included Company-level attacks and scenarios concerning CBRN vignettes, concluding with a full-scale exercise involving government and industry scientists and more than 300 military personnel.

Major Rob Garside, from 40 Commando Royal Marines, said:

Working with Dstl means we have the most up-to-date information and a realistic exercise. This ensures we are well prepared for a CBRN operating environment. It is vital we can make rapid decisions and are able to protect and support specialists who come in to deal with any incident. On operations these specialists are on hand to advise and we must ensure we already have a strong understanding of their capabilities and what they require of us as a military force.

The Dstl lead for CBRN exercises said:

40 Commando would be first on the ground in the event of a CBRN incident. We ensure they’re up to date on the latest threats and make the exercise truly realistic. They not only have to provide a fighting force in an unstable environment, they must also be able to assess the scene and know what they’re dealing with.

That’s where Dstl, PHE, AWE and the Defence CBRN Centre come in, as we provide the technical information the Marines require.

Defence CBRN Centre

The CBR Services Programme maintains the UK strategic sovereign science and technology (S&T) capability to help reduce the impact from the use of chemical, biological and radiological materials on UK Forces and wider UK interests. This includes understanding the physical risks to personnel in CBR-contaminated environments and developing mitigation and protection strategies to reduce potential casualties.

The work supports the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review’s intent to maintain political and military freedom of action despite the presence, threat or use of CBR weapons.

High-containment laboratory
Defence CBRN Centre (Crown Copyright)

The programme’s broad range of work protects UK interests – military or civilian – in the UK or overseas. A suite of services underpins the UK’s defence against CBR threats and is designed around three themes:

  • Ensuring access to strategic CB facilities that are needed to maintain the UK’s capability to evaluate and respond to CB threats
  • Provision of suitably qualified and experienced personnel and tools, training and experimentation to prepare users to operate effectively in CBR-contaminated environments; this includes understanding threats, hazards and mitigations, informing decision making, and impact assessment
  • Development of CBR-sensing technologies to better detect, locate, identify and monitor current and future CBR agents and man-made hazard threats

Further Reading

How to Become a Royal Marines Commando.

Sean Lerwill, Royal Marines Fitness Manual.

John Parker, The Royal Marines: The Inside Story of a Force for the Future.

On Skripal

Mark Urban, The Skripal Files: The Full Story Behind the Salisbury Poisonings.

Source: MOD.

Featured image: Royal Navy FOST Mobile Training Team from Devonport join HMS Invincible for NBC and Damage Control training (Crown copyright, 2005).