Navy

The Royal Marines Fighting Against Chemical Warfare

Exercise Toxic Dagger has brought together 40 Commando and the Defence Science Technology Laboratory to fight the threat of chemical weapons...

The worlds of the military and science have been joining forces in order to combat the threat of chemical weapons.

Exercise Toxic Dagger has brought together 40 Commando, the Defence Science Technology Laboratory and the Atomic Weapons Establishment.

A chemical attack can leave a severe impact, and it is crucial that Armed Forces personnel are given training in how to survive and operate in toxic environments.

In the final stage of Exercise Toxic Dagger, Bravo Company, 40 Commando are faced with attacking a building with a potential chemical threat.

Marine Ben Cook told us about the exercise:

"We set up a chemical-based lab where the enemy are preparing a chemical projectile. 40 Commando are now trying to attack and nullify the enemy."

To combat the effects of the chemical attack, troops will wear a chemical protection suit and a respirator; something which Major Rob Garside, the Officer Commanding of Bravo Company says presents its own challenges:

"You're generally a lot heavier and more cumbersome, and it makes even walking and talking very difficult.

"The respirator makes it harder to look around, and therefore aiming and firing your weapon is a lot more difficult."

40 Commando are likely to be the first troops on the ground where toxic exposure is a significant risk.

40 Commando Chemical Weapons Training

That is why the Defence Science and Technological laboratories are supporting them, as Mne Cook told us:

"We have a few thousand experts who can give these guys the technical advice they need to have that impact.

"It's been proven that the advice we've given makes the warfighting faster and more flexible."

Suspected chemical weapon use in Syria has been widely reported over recent years, something its government strongly denies.

As the lead commando group, 40 Commando would be the priority response to any government tasking.

Last year they were the first troops on the ground in the aftermath of the Caribbean hurricanes.

"It’s not just about engaging with the enemy and fighting them - there's a whole side to do with the chemicals themselves, biological or radiological, and we have to know what chemicals might be out there, and how they’ll affect us."

The hope is that by the end of the three-week exercise, Bravo Company will be the most advanced among British land forces in responding to chemical threats.

40 Commando Chemical Weapons Training