Royal Marines unleash Dragon on Dartmoor

The Royal Marines’ ‘backroom boys’ found themselves thrust into the front line for their annual workout in the baking heat of Devon.

Each year, the core of Commando Logistics Regiment (CLR) takes its many and varied units and tests their ability to support the front line over a fortnight-long exercise.

The Barnstaple-based unit provides the support the Royal Marines of 3 Commando Brigade need in the field – food, medical cover, fuel, vehicle repair and recovery, ammunition and other supplies.

Exercise Green Dragon is to the regiment – which comprises not just commandos, but also sailors and soldiers – what Operational Sea Training is to the ships of the Royal Navy; a validation exercise which determines whether a logistics task group is ready to deploy with the lead commando group, anywhere in the world, in any environment.

The exercise is normally staged on Salisbury Plain. Being Royal Marines, CLR decided the undulating Wiltshire countryside wasn’t challenging enough… and shifted Green Dragon to the more austere surroundings of Dartmoor.

A convoy of around 100 vehicles moved from Barnstaple to Dartmoor, bringing with them around 300 specialists in vehicle repair, engineering, emergency medical treatment, communications and the distribution of stores and equipment to be tested in their various areas of expertise, setting up base at Lee Moor Quarry and Newnham Park.

Over its fortnight run, Green Dragon is designed to test all the logistics regiment’s components to their limits – and beyond.

The premise is simple: you’re a commando first, chef, driver, medic, stores accountant second, so CLR are expected to be able to fight as well as meet the demands of the brigade.

The terrain at the park and quarry are difficult to negotiate – especially with such large numbers of vehicles – and also forced the regiment to change its approach to camouflage, creating some innovative methods of concealment.

Such as using striped tarpaulin and plastic sheeting to create the illusion of corrugated iron roofs and concrete walls to hide traditional military tents in plain sight.

Other new innovations include the use of movement sensors, cameras and drones to provide protection to areas of ground that have been traditionally difficult to cover, allowing locations to be protected with a far smaller fighting force, meaning more troops are available for frontline tasks.

The exercise proved to be a perfect platform to demonstrate the new methods of camouflage and defence to the Commandant General Royal Marines Major General Charlie Stickland and his Spanish and Norwegian equivalents who observed the closing stages of Green Dragon.