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A recent unofficial Royal Marines commentary focused on the ‘unsporting’ announcement of the Army’s new Special Operations Brigade and four-battalion Ranger Regiment. Unsporting, because of the perceived overlap in mission and role between the new formation and the Royal Marines’ self-proclaimed ‘return’ to their Commando roots.
The ambition to transform 3 Commando Brigade into the Future Commando Force (FCF) was announced a full two years prior to the Integrated Review and was discussed by RUSI in 2019. Since then, the FCF has undergone an extensive re-branding exercise, with the roll-out of new uniforms and technology and the establishment of the Vanguard Strike Company (VSC) concept as a forward-deployed sub-threshold Littoral Response Group (LRG). The Defence Command Paper further solidified the LRG with the announcement that one of the UK’s three Bay-class Landing Ship Dock (Auxiliary) vessels will be refitted and based out of Duqm, Oman.
This reassessment of role, purpose and utility is not simply one of choice. 3 Commando Brigade has been reduced to two manoeuvre units, while 42 Commando was re-roled to Maritime Security (MarSy) and Support, Augment, Liaise and Train (SALT) missions in 2017. Furthermore, the formation of the Carrier Strike Group (CSG) has diverted Royal Navy resources away from amphibious forces. As a result, the FCF and LRG face significant challenges. These can be divided into three areas of concern.
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