Royal Marines prepare for Arctic with Highlands tests

Royal Marines are preparing for their next foray into the Arctic freezer with extensive mountain training in -15°c conditions in Scotland’s Highlands on Exercise Green Claymore.

Arbroath-based 45 Commando are preparing to step off to the high north in January to continue the Royal Marines’ work in the extreme cold hundreds of miles inside the Arctic Circle.

The commandos are the UK’s experts in cold weather warfare and are next year heading on the largest deployment to Norway in recent years. 

It’s all part of the renewed commitment to put the high north at the forefront of UK security with Royal Marines at the very heart of it. 

To get ready for the northern freeze, 45 Commando are undergoing unit mountain training, with extensive exercises focussing on navigation and conditioning for the Arctic in the Highlands, where temperatures have plummeted to a cool -15°c.

It’s all staged out of Cameron Barracks in Inverness and consists of vertical assault techniques, traversing ridges using fixed lines, winter skill training (using ice axes and crampons), obstacle crossing, river cross skills (including wading).

It doesn’t end there, with cold weather warfare survival, first aid, casualty evacuation, specialist cold weather equipment training also built into the programme to form the building blocks for a successful winter deployment. 

All of this training is delivered by 45 Commando’s Recce Troop and has seen the commandos carry out a tactical crossing of An Teallach mountain, nicknamed the great wilderness, and navigation routes on the Fannichs range. 

We’ve experienced the first proper snow of the winter and conditions have definitely been testing – with wind gusting up to 50mph and the wind chill taking temperatures down to -15 degrees. It’s excellent preparation for the conditions we’ll experience in Norway.

Marine Michael Christie

“We’ve had some fantastic days on the hill with Yankee Coy. We’ve experienced the first proper snow of the winter and conditions have definitely been testing – with wind gusting up to 50mph and the wind chill taking temperatures down to -15 degrees. It’s excellent preparation for the conditions we’ll experience in Norway,” Marine Michael Christie, a Mountain Leader Third Class in 45 Commando Recce Troop.

“Training will push people out of their comfort zone. It’s particularly challenging operating on ridge lines during these conditions - with steep drops either side and a strong wind blowing, it can be pretty daunting for some people. It’s this sort of training that will make the team more resilient when we’re in Norway”. 

Units from across 3 Commando Brigade will deploy for NATO’s Exercise Cold Response in Norway early next year and all this is done so that commandos can deploy safely and undertake the cold weather warfare course training.

Yankee Company were the lucky ones, getting the first of this winter’s snow during their winter training package, facing gusts of wind of 50mph and a wind chill of -15°c.