Royal Marines Commando Uniform Autumn 2020 260620 CREDIT MOD 21
Royal Marines

What Is The Future Commando Force?

The modernisation programme for the Royal Marines has seen the creation of a new unit, a new uniform, and new technology.

Royal Marines Commando Uniform Autumn 2020 260620 CREDIT MOD 21

The Future Commando Force is designed to modernise the way Royal Marines operate.

It has been described by the Royal Navy as the most significant transformation and rebranding programme since the Second World War.

But what does it involve?

The Royal Marines recently established the Vanguard Strike Company, a new unit of more than 150 Marines and British Army commandos, due to take shape in autumn.

The Royal Navy said the Vanguard Strike Company will "shape how the Royal Marines Commandos of the future will operate around the globe", and will have access to "game-changing technology and weaponry".

The service also said company personnel will work in "small, versatile teams" tailored for their mission, delivering "a more agile and lethal capability".

Traditionally, Royal Marines operate in sections of eight but, as part of the Future Commando Force, Commandos have been testing these smaller groups.

A recent training exercise saw 60 Royal Marines from 40 Commando split into three groups while trying to find and fight each other at Bovington Training Area in Dorset.

Marine Edward Harte, 40 Commando, said they were testing the new concept by "going as four-man teams".

As well as a change in the number of personnel, these smaller teams also test the Future Commando Force concept by allowing more autonomy, as the skill set of personnel will be tailored to each mission.

Royal Marines may also be stationed on vessels across the globe, as opposed to being deployed from the UK.

This allows high readiness groups to be prepared for a mission at a moment's notice.

Major General Matt Holmes, Commandant General Royal Marines said the new Vanguard Strike Company will "lead and inform" as the Royal Marines continue to "fight in a dynamic, technological era of warfare".

The Royal Navy also said the unit will be the first "demonstration of kit, equipment, training and organisational change" to develop the concept and put it at the "forefront" of the Navy’s national security contribution.

Royal Marines on Ex Talisman Sabre - released on announcement of Vanguard Strike Company 200720 CREDIT ROYAL NAVY
The Vanguard Strike Company will first be deployed in mid-2021 (Picture: Royal Navy).

The Vanguard Strike Company will be deployed for the first time in mid-2021, and the company will wear the new Royal Marines uniform.

Announced in June, the uniform was procured from US firm Crye Precision.

Chosen for the extreme environments in which Royal Marine Commandos operate, the uniform includes new disruptive material shirts, trousers and a waterproof combat jacket which will replace the combat and Gortex jacket currently worn by commandos.

The new kit is lighter weight, higher strength, faster-drying and a more breathable version of their typical 50/50 cotton/nylon kit.

It also has a subtle change in camouflage design.

One of the main differences on the new uniform is largely symbolic, as it will be the first time in decades marines are not wearing the same standard kit as the Army.

The arched black and green Royal Marines Commando shoulder flash will be changed to a navy blue and red velcro-attaching rectangular patch, which dates back to the Second World War.

It sees a return to the traditional commando insignia, similar to the the design first worn by commandos when they launched raids in Nazi-occupied Europe.

Additionally, the Union Flag on the left arm is replaced by a White Ensign, to represent the Royal Navy.

Lieutenant Colonel Ben Reynolds RM, who led the procurement and design of the new uniform, said it shows the Royal Marines' "distinctiveness" and "unique capabilities", as well as the "Royal Navy’s eagerness to invest" in the Future Commando Force.

Alongside the uniform, new technology is being trialled that, if successful, will form part of the Future Commando Force.

Watch: How could this new helmet camera change the way Royal Marines operate?

One example is a new helmet-mounted camera system designed to work with mobile network radios and to be capable of sending live footage from the frontline.

The system is being developed by MarWorks, the Royal Navy’s innovation team based in Plymouth, and will allow for rapid tactical responses as the information is passed on to commanders.

Paul Anderson, technical support on the helmet-mounted camera system project, told Forces News the "clever bit" isn't the camera, but "how you move that data around the network so people can see it at different levels".

"So some video footage is relevant in the immediate space, some of it is relevant back in the UK on a strategic level," he added.

Cover image: The new Royal Marines Commando uniform, which is being released in Autumn 2020 (Picture: Royal Navy).