Royal Marines hone urban fighting skills during Exercise Pearl Dagger

Royal Marines have been sharpening their urban fighting skills in Bahrain.

The marines, from Taunton-based 40 Commando, are in the Gulf nation for Exercise Pearl Dagger and, as well as laying down some lead at the ranges, have been developing their tactics in raiding in built up areas.

It was also a chance for Commandos to share knowledge and experience with allied Bahrain Marines. 

“In terms of individual training, every marine in the company has benefitted from the live firing,” Major Chris Burr, Officer Commanding of Alpha Company said.

“We are not often lucky enough to have two weeks, back-to-back, on the ranges in the UK as there is such a great demand.

“This has given us a chance to return to basics and then build up to advanced application on all weapon systems including, pistol, SA80 and sharpshooter. 

“From a collective training point of view, the Urban Training Facility here is world class.”

As part of Pearl Dagger – which has taken place annually since 2014 – the Commandos from Alpha Company ripped through the complex of buildings. 

In the heat of the action, a loud pop and splutter from a smoke grenade fills the air at the rear of the mock town.

The thud of machine gun fire then crackles through the battlefield, giving Royal Marines the signal to begin clearing the buildings.

They leap through the windows and room by room, stairway by stairway, they quickly pin down the ‘enemy’. 

We are not often lucky enough to have two weeks, back-to-back, on the ranges in the UK as there is such a great demand.

Major Chris Burr 

This is the perfect place for the Commando Forces to keep fresh and update their skills, while allied Bahrain Marines are benefitting too, by learning from their visitors.

“It’s been excellent. A great experience. This is my third time working with the Royal Marines on Exercise Pearl Dagger,” said Lieutenant Khalid Al Khalifa of the Bahrain Marines, Royal Bahrain Naval Force.

“We’ve got a lot better since the first time now that we have more experience and better equipment.”

Royal Marine, Tommy Langley, from South London, added: “The Bahrain Marines certainly got better throughout the week. 

“From our side, we’ve had lots of troops amalgamated together and it’s been great to see it getting better as the days have gone on.”

This exercise marks the latest stage of a jam-packed autumn period for 40 Commando. 

The unit have tested themselves in a range of environments in various countries – from Albania and Qatar, to the Far East – while on duty with the Royal Navy’s Amphibious Task Group. 

UK Amphibious Task Group (COMATG) exists to respond to unfolding crises anywhere in the world where the UK's national interests may be at risk.

As well as conducting annual deployments worldwide to prove the global reach of the Royal Navy, the task group has been activated for many operations in recent years.