Royal Marines go behind ‘enemy’ lines in Australia

Royal Marines headed deep behind ‘enemy’ lines to wreak havoc in the rugged rural areas of Australian’s eastern coast before more than 34,000 troops crashed ashore on the largest Australian-led amphibious landing since World War Two.

The marines from Taunton-based 40 Commando are nearly 10,000 miles from home - down under for Exercise Talisman Sabre, a large-scale biennial war games between Australian and United States forces.

This time around, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the UK joined in as the taskforce assaulted around 1,500 kilometres of Queensland and North South Wales coastline.

The Royal Marines job was as a ‘pre-landing force’. That is to say, the marines were doing what commandos do best; taking out forward enemy positions and infrastructure and clearing the path for the larger amphibious assault. 

They spent three days conducting raids alongside reconnaissance specialists from the Australian Defence Force, 2nd Royal Australian Regiment, after making for land from HMAS Canberra, the Royal Australian Navy’s flagship. 

The small teams the Royal Marines were working in are part of the Future Commando Force concept, with each Green Beret foremost a commando, and then handpicked for the various skill set required for the task. 

Officer Commanding of Command Company, 40 Commando, Major Chris Hurt, said: “We have been providing reconnaissance, battlefield shaping and the ability to strike enemy positions in specialist multi-role teams; to enable the larger amphibious forces to assault the coastlines and access contested land.

“Exercising in Australia as part of a large amphibious force has provided 40 Commando ranks the unique opportunity to travel the world, train in a demanding warm weather environment and demonstrate a commando’s utility for employment operating deep behind enemy lines.”

The main amphibious assault took place around Langham Beach in Stanage Bay, Queensland. 

The exercise scenario saw the taskforce sail for the fictional island of Legais, which had been invaded by fictional Pacific nation, Kamaria.

Exercising in Australia as part of a large amphibious force has provided 40 Commando ranks the unique opportunity to travel the world, train in a demanding warm weather environment and demonstrate a commando’s utility for employment operating deep behind enemy lines.

Major Hurt, Officer Commanding, Command Company

It was the allies’ responsibility to retake and secure the island, liberating the people. 

Around 30 ships and 200 aircraft were involved in the training and once the forces had landed, they headed into an extended operational area across the region. 

Sapper Luke Hubbard, from the Australian Army’s 10th Force Support Battalion’s amphibious beach team, said: “I think we are really testing our armies individually, and together, to see how the amphibious capability really works.

“To be able to do that is pretty exciting and a major challenge.”

Before heading on Talisman Sabre, Command Company were conducting experimental training sorties, preparing for their main mission and making sure they were fine-tuned for the tasks ahead. 

“Under the blazing sun, the company conducted live firing. Other attachments have used the fantastic 3D immersive fire control simulator at the Australian barracks,” said Lieutenant Simon Williams, 40 Commando. 

“Elsewhere, Mountain Leaders conducted survival training specific to this climate; including cracking open coconuts for hydration.”