Royal Marines raid Albanian coastline in exercise with NATO allies

Topic: Fighting armsRoyal Marines

Under cover of darkness, Royal Marines Commandos have stormed the coastline of Albania as part of an exercise with the UK’s NATO allies.

The marines, from 40 Commando, carried out dawn raids and shared specialist military knowledge with Albanian and Kosovan security forces as part of Exercise Albanian Lion 18.

Alpha Company made amphibious landings along the Albanian coastline while Bravo Company, Recce Troop and members of the Commando Logistic Regiment have been operating in the mountainous Bize region.

The idea of the exercise is to strengthen ties with Balkan members of NATO but also provide commandos with challenging environments to train in.

Colour Sergeant Lee West and his team have been training the Kosovan Security Forces’ Rapid Reaction Unit in navigation, tactics, camouflage, concealment and vehicle checkpoints in Bize.

On the coast, Alpha Company used hovercraft and Offshore Raiding Craft from RFA Lyme Bay to launch dawn training raids on a disused Albanian Naval Base alongside their Albanian counterparts.

To the east of the capital Tirana, in the mountainous terrain surrounding the Bize training area in Dajti Mountain National Park, Bravo Company and Recce Troop worked closely with Albanian personnel.

This included Close Target Recce (CTR) – observing a target of interest in a covert manner – and vertical assault training, which is a speciality of the Royal Marines.

Corporal Joe Southam, from Recce Troop, said: “Bize provides the perfect terrain for this kind of training and has been of great benefit to us and the Albanian forces. I was here in 2014 and it’s great to be back here with our Albanian partners.”

The work has also extended to improvements on the camp in Bize – which sits at a similar altitude to Snowden in Wales – with 59 Commando Royal Engineers and Albanian engineers building roads and improving facilities together.

To the south, 24 Commando Royal Engineers have been working alongside Albanian and Croatian military divers at Pasha Liman Naval Base.

Having trained alongside the Albanians for the last seven years, there is a long history – going back to World War Two – of the Royal Marines and their Albanian partners working together, forging bonds and sharing expertise.

Albanian Lion 18 is part of the larger Amphibious Task Group 18 (ATG) which will see 40 Commando deployed to the Middle East in October before returning to the UK in December.

Britain’s fleet flagship HMS Albion is also part of the ATG, which will conduct a number of overseas engagements and exercises with allied countries on NATO’s South Eastern flank.

It has been a pleasure to work with the Kosovan troops. We have formed a real bond with them during the exercise and it was a great chance for us to get stuck into training in this region.

Colour Sergeant Lee West