As I hand over Command of the Royal Marines I feel immensely privileged to have been entrusted for the last 2 ½ years with the leadership of one of the countries finest institutions and the UK’s premier crisis response force.

Major General Ed Davis, RM

He then took a phrase from Theodore Roosevelt and said: "It is to them, the ones in the arena, whose faces are marred by dust and sweat, that the credit for our Corps fearless reputation belongs.

"I salute each and every one of them for what I know they will continue to do keeping our nation and allies safe and prosperous.”

Talking about Afghanistan he said: “The service, achievement and sacrifice of our people has been truly exceptional and has been rightly recognised by 211 national gallantry and meritorious service awards.

"This equates to 13% of all the medals awarded in the campaign so far and an incredible 25% of all the Conspicuous Gallantry Crosses and Military Crosses – not bad for our  little old  Corps that only makes up 4% of Defences’ manpower.”

Major General Smith said: "We are a hierarchical military organisation, but it is important that we understand who is the most important man in the Royal Marines - and it certainly isn't me:  

"it is the next man into action; 

"the next man to engage the enemy; 

"the next man off the helicopter; 

"the next man into the compound.  

"He is the focus of our attention and all of us - corporals, warrant officers, commanding officers and Commandants General - are dedicated to supporting him.

"Defence inflation is a scourge which is common to all and we have not found the answer to it yet, but the Royal Navy is in an excellent position to provide the sort of flexible, responsive capability which the country needs and can approach the future with no little confidence and authority.

"Britain has a Navy which continues to see itself as leading operations across the seam between the sea and the land, an activity requiring a range of joint capabilities, but which must have the clarity and continuity of command and control which the Royal Navy, and specifically it's Royal Marines, can provide.  

"I think that we are making a unique and valuable contribution to Defence.  

"I think that we are understood, valued and trusted by the Government.  

"I think that we are admired and respected by the people of this great country, who pay for us through their taxes, deliver their sons and daughters into our care, and in whose name we discharge our most sacred responsibilities: ultimately, to take the lives of others and to sacrifice our own in the service of our nation.  

"But Royal Marines don't do complacency:  there is no such thing as 'good enough':  it is the unremitting pursuit of excellence which is our hallmark.

"Learning is best done with other people, and in our case close ties with the United States Marine Corps and the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps have been essential in keeping us modern and relevant."

Royal Marines Commando Officer

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