Photo Information

British service members with 30 Commando IX (Information Exploitation) Group, 3 Commando Brigade, Royal Marines, practice shooting on the move at a range aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., July 1. This exercise prepared them for live-fire, room clearance drills they performed at the base’s Military Operations on Urban Terrain facility.

Photo by Cpl. Jo Jones

British Commandos practice live-fire exercise at MOUT facility

1 Jul 2010 | Cpl. Jo Jones

British service members with 30 Commando IX (Information Exploitation) Group, 3 Commando Brigade, Royal Marines, honed their close-combat skills during a live-fire, room-clearing exercise using the Military Operations on Urban Terrain facility aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, July 1.

This exercise is just one part of “Operation Auriga,” a joint amphibious exercise designed to increase the proficiency, interoperability and confidence of both United States and United Kingdom forces in coalition and amphibious operations.

The men first practiced movement drills – “turning and advancing while firing” – on a small range before they worked on room-clearing techniques in a practice MOUT building.  Shortly thereafter, they loaded their magazines with ammunition and wove their way through the maze-like building, performing various room-clearing techniques and shooting 5.56mm rounds at paper targets strategically placed throughout the building.

Cpl. Al Morrell, a section commander with L Company, 42 Commando, 3 Commando Brigade, said Camp Lejeune’s MOUT facility was fantastic and gave the British warriors a unique opportunity to put theory into practice and get practical hands-on experience.

“We don’t have many live-fire compounds in the U.K.,” said Morrell.  “This facility gives us a more realistic context to practice in.  This ultimately prepares the brigade for future operations.”

Members of the Royal Marines’ Brigade Reconnaissance Force and the British Army’s 24 Engineers and 9th/12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales’s), hail from various parts of the U.K. and come together to form an elite group of warriors who keep the brigade commander abreast of the enemy’s latest capabilities and tactics.

Capt. Tom Hughes, a BRF troop commander from the 9th/12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales’s), said the group’s diverse skills make them a very strong force when working toward a unified goal.

“We have tremendous strength and depth into what we are trying to do,” said Hughes.  “This collective training means we can build a BRF ethos and train together to ensure we have a common (standard operating procedure).   The end state is a motivated and cohesive subunit.”

Hughes said it was encouraging to see the team’s progress as the men showed tangible signs they were actively learning from their training experiences in the U.S.

“They tell me, ‘Boss, I’ve learned so much today,’” said Hughes.  “It’s rewarding to see all the training we’ve done to this point.  It’s fantastic.”

In addition to growing together as a team, both Hughes and Morrell said their coalition brothers – the U.S. Marines – have been accommodating and hospitable.

“One of the best things about this (experience) is the Marine Corps has been incredibly cooperative in facilitating our access to these training facilities,” said Hughes.   “Our experiences with the American (Marines) have been overwhelmingly positive.  If there’s anything they can do, they will.”

Hughes said the brigade not only liked the MOUT facility but they adopted the same room-clearing procedures used by U.S. Marines who fought in Fallujah, Iraq.  Hughes said this was a key aspect in winning wars when working with other coalition forces while deployed in combat zones.

“We’re all singing off the same sheet of music, so to speak,” said Hughes.  “If we are in Afghanistan, both British and American Marines can work together and do the same thing.”

Hughes said the training opportunities and learning experiences they will take away from their trip to the U.S. will not only help them in battle, but also on their homefront.

“We can learn very practical lessons which we wouldn’t learn through theory, so when I go home, I can cascade (the information) to my soldiers,” said Hughes.  “It allows us to see the tiny things that make a big difference.”