Ultimately, the training that recruits undertake in order to become a Royal Marine is tough. It is designed to push people to their mental and physical limits and requires a huge amount of grit, determination and perseverance.
Becoming a Commando requires a certain ‘State of Mind’ and this includes the ability to keep going and not give up at the first hurdle.
Subsequently there are many reasons why someone might fail during the arduous selection or training stages of becoming a Royal Marine. Some of those reasons could be permanent barriers but many are not.
Why Did You Fail?
There are certain medical conditions and disorders which preclude entry to the Royal Marines (and other branches of the Armed Forces) such as heart disease or psychiatric illness. Some have a time restriction, including asthma which allow you to join if you have not had any symptoms or needed treatment in the last four years.
During the aptitude testing stage (Naval Service Recruitment Test), candidates are assessed on their attitude and intellectual ability through a series of tests and questions.
There is a discretionary range allowed for a few marks on certain parts of these tests if the candidate is deemed to have 'compensating qualities' but beyond these, if a recruit fails the aptitude tests they will be asked to come back and try again in a time period ranging from a few weeks to a few months. Only in exceptional circumstances will a recruit be allowed a third attempt and this must be after a period of at least 12 months.
During the interview, applicants are assessed on their suitability for the role of a Royal Marine. Sometimes a candidate may be told to come back when they have for example, more life experience or if the interviewer is not sure that the candidate is committed to life as a Royal Marine.
Injuries during any type of military training is common but whether you can continue your training depends on the severity and nature of the injury.
Anyone injured during training will receive specialist medical care and rehabilitation. This could mean personnel are unable to complete their training with their original intake but can join a later troop coming through.
All applicants have to pass a medical carried out by an MoD approved doctor before commencing training. If during the recruitment process, a previously undisclosed or undiscovered medical condition arises then as with injuries, a decision will be made as to whether you are able to continue training or not and if not, for how long.
Depending how far you are along in the process, and the severity of the issue, it could result in a Medical Discharge (MD) or being downgraded to being Temporarily Medically Unfit (TMU) or Permanently Medically Unfit (PMU). PMU does not always mean forever, it can mean until an issue has been resolved or a mandated recovery time is completed.
An MD could mean a permanent bar to service or for a certain period of time - for example, four years. In certain circumstances, you can appeal against these gradings if you have medical evidence to back up your claim.
There are stringent fitness tests and standards that must be met throughout the different stages of becoming a Marine and it is important that the minimum standards are not just met but exceeded.
If recruits fail to meet the required standards at any stage, they will be given another chance to try again but if there are repeated failures then ultimately the decision rests with the Commanding Officer as to whether a recruit will have to leave and is allowed to come back and try again.
When recruits get to the 'Bottom Field Test' stage of their training (week 20), they have three attempts to pass the test in one go. There are four elements to the test that includes 30 foot ropes, a 200 metre fireman's carry, an assault course and a full regain.
Once these three chances are used up, recruits are put into the 'Hunter Company' where some of the Marines best Physical Training Instructors reside. The instructors will dedicate a huge amount of time and effort into ensuring those recruits get to the necessary standards and pass the tests in order to leave Hunter and carry on with their training.
When recruits get to the final stage of their training, they have a seven-day window in which to pass all the Commando tests which includes any secondary attempts. If a recruit fails two or more of the tests, however, it is unlikely that a chance to re-attempt them will be offered and they will be sent back to Hunter again.
A system of warnings exists that are designed to get those who are struggling, back on track. If extra instruction does not work and a recruit is not meeting the professional or physical standards, they can be 'back trooped' (moved to a different troop) to allow them more time and training in problem areas. Another option is for them to be placed in 'Hunter Company' for remedial training. Recruits are given time, tuition, coaching and educational assistance to help them succeed.
Some recruits will decide that life as a Royal Marine is not for them but because it is thought that many of these concerns will disappear after a settling-in period, recruits are not allowed to Opt Out for the first 28 days.