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24 NAVY NEWS, JULY 2009
● Alpha Company prepare for their jungle
assault in Brunei
● 9ASRM landing craft from HMS Ocean
waiting at the shore
Shallow-water experts from Fleet doesn’t carry what a Sea King does have to be developed to a very high fish
Diving Unit 2 have had their first and that it doesn’t operate in quite standard. the
taste of her as their home base, and the same way. But you’ve got to see “So challenging, yes, but actually ba
their first experience of working as this as an opportunity. superb training.” ou
IED experts alongside the Gurkhas “And we’ve had an opportunity The nation of Brunei has the
in Brunei’s jungle depths. here to build an amphibious welcomed its overseas invaders, ow
The boat specialists of 539 ASRM, capability within 820 NAS that we continuing to support its strong
Ocean’s 9ASRM and Bulwark’s didn’t have before, and that might historical links to the UK, and the he
4ASRM have forged together into get used on operations one day in British resident garrison 1 Rifles wa
two effective boat groups. which case we’ll be very glad we Gurkha Regiment have shared their eas
The new gunboat offshore raiding did it.” jungle expertise with their marine do
craft have proven their mettle in the The commodore added: “820 counterparts.
testing grounds of Med, Gulf and were enthused by the opportunity to Training has been varied, making ad
Bornean coasts. do something outside their core role use of the beaches, primary and ele
On board their flagship the two of ASW and surface search. They’re secondary jungle with which the no
amphib leaders are in no doubt of able to fly in the jungle. It’s brilliant Devon-sized nation abounds. yo
the value of pushing ships, aircraft for their own individual training. The rivers have also been put to an
and people outside of their usual “As with the Marines, we train good use with the boat squadrons to
comfort zones. in the jungle for Afghanistan. That prowling the inland waterways on po
Cdre Paul Bennett, Commander might be a difficult conceptual leap. raids.
Amphibious Task Group, said: “But it helps 820 to be better The Commando Rajah river raid ha
“There is no amphibious package. pilots back in their main role. These was brought short by a sluice gate, ma
There’s no one size fits all – that’s are all great skills. What the pilots where a mechanical engine failure co
the operation, that’s the kit. have done has been a really excellent had to be replaced by Marine ‘hand- an
“We will always be doing other performance.” draulic’ power, as the men of Alpha
things around the world, and we This exercise highlights again Company spent over four hours sw
will always deploy with a raft of and again the flexibility and manually winching the sluice gate up ma
different equipment, different staffs, adaptability demanded of all aspects to allow their boat group through. to
and the multinational makeup is, of of the Naval service, particularly the But this sort of problem, rather
● Exercise Commando Rajah drew the Marines
course, going to be different in every extreme complexity and range of its than an artificial hindrance to the the
from the beach into the jungles of Borneo
operation as well.” operations. value of the exercise, is seen as a wh
For Commando Rajah, the Of course, this range also offers boon. ide
commodore is presiding over a up other arenas – the heat, the “You might actually be in that gu
task group featuring two of the humidity, the jungle. The cold exact situation where the lock env
great ‘amphib heavies’ Bulwark weather experts of the Royal Marines gatekeeper has run away and you
and Ocean, the Australian assault are pushing themselves and their have to take charge of it,” said Col mu
ship HMAS Manoora, and frigate kit into an increasingly infrequent Smith. ho
Somerset, RFA Wave Ruler and training ground. “That sort of thing happens all
the American ship USS Mitscher The Commander Land Forces the time, particularly in the sort of M
who are off guarding the flanks of said: “The jungle is a superb training conflicts that we’re engaged in now. on
the assault group, and survey ship area for the guys on the ground for a Which can be characterised as war int
Echo. number of reasons. among the people.” en
His air assets for jungle assault “Firstly it is environmentally “And that’s probably quite an
unusually include Merlin maritime challenging – they need to learn to important lesson. an
patrol aircraft – operating for only look after themselves. It’s almost “We’ve spent an awful lot of time the
the third time from HMS Ocean that their first duty is to consider exercising in very isolated places wa
– and the CHF Lynx from 847 looking after themselves before they and fighting in isolated places, we an
NAS, but not the classic ‘jungly’ Sea think about taking on the enemy. Or need to get used to the idea that the cal
Kings of the Commando Helicopter your force can dissipate very rapidly conflicts we are engaged in now are dri
Force. through illness or injury. amongst the people and we don’t
For Col Martin Smith, the Marine “But also, because everything always have the ability to operate HM
heading up the land forces of 40 that happens in the jungle happens in exactly the way that we would thr
Cdo, bulked up with 539 ASRM, at a range between ten and 30 wish.” ha
US Marines and the local Gurkha metres, very close, as compared to This means that the landing craft Cd
troops, the benefits are without a 100 to 300 metres in most other men have had to slow their craft to thr
doubt: “It’s obvious that a Merlin environments, so individual skills ensure they don’t flood the shallow
● HMS Echo in the South China Sea
Picture: Lt Lindsey Ashwood
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