Royal Marines head on commando raids as Baltic missions heat up

Topic: Fighting armsRoyal Marines Storyline: 45 Commando

Royal Marines have kicked off their participation in large-scale joint war games in the Baltic with covert commando raids in Lithuania.

The marines of Arbroath-based 45 Commando are part of NATO’s Baltops exercises – involving 4,000 troops, 40 maritime units and 60 aircraft from 18 nations.

They have been in Lithuania since last week honing their skills alongside the Griffin Brigade and National Defence Volunteer Force of the Lithuanian military. 

Now, the green berets join hosts Lithuania and forces from the USA and Portugal on Exercise Strong Griffin, which will see the allied troops work closely together on a set of intensive training scenarios. 

Kicking things off in style, team four of 45 Commando’s X-Ray Company carried out a landing on the southern edge of Klaipėda with raiding craft from 47 Commando, before moving inland on targets in training areas around Kairiai, in northern Lithuania. 

The commandos were hit by a simulated mortar attack as part of the training and they were tasked to react quickly to evacuate a casualty, giving them life-saving treatment before moving them to aid posts.

Within 50 minutes, the casualty was being treated by a Royal Navy doctor and combat medics, stabilising them before a helicopter took them off the front line. 

This was essential training to test the commandos’ ability to adapt quickly. 

Captain Hugh Mackenzie, second in command of X-Ray Company, said: “We exercised the Strike Team’s ability to conduct a raid on a target, neutralise the enemy and effectively treat and evacuate a casualty. 

“The extraction time and transfer to the Pre Hospital Treatment Team was examined, which allowed us to train past the initial casualty response in detail.”

X-Ray Company began work in Lithuania with training alongside troops from the Griffin Brigade and National Defence Volunteer Force, sharing valuable expertise between the two NATO nations. 

A team from X-Ray Company spent a day on close-quarters combat exercises with Griffin Brigade working in mixed teams.

To add another level to the training, the marines got their hands on some of the Lithuanian kit, including using training versions of the Heckler & Koch G36 Assault Rifles, which fire plastic balls as rounds.

Colour Sergeant Kristian Foster, said: “This has been an amazing experience so far; working, teaching and learning from the Griffin Brigade. It was great to work mixed teams and use their rifles, the Royal Marines don’t use BBs to train with, and so it was awesome to get some hands-on experience.”

After completing training, the marines headed for the home of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Butigeidis Dragoon Battalion, in Klaipeda on the Baltic coast, for an opening ceremony of the Baltops exercises.

Royal Marines of 45 Commando are a central part of the Royal Navy’s Littoral Response Group (North) deployment, which is led by HMS Albion and includes RFA Mounts Bay, a Wildcat helicopter from 847 Naval Air Squadron, 30 Commando Information Exploitation Group, 47 Commando Raiding Group, 1700 Naval Air Squadron, 700X and soldiers from the Royal Logistic Corps.