Royal Marines Reservists hone their shooting skills

Tracer fire from a .50 calibre heavy machine gun lights up the sky in Sennelager, Germany. Around 120 Royal Marines reservists deployed to the ranges for the largest annual exercise in the RMR calendar, Commando Phoenix.

Conducted over 12 arduous days, the exercise encompassed a variety of training including, a General Purpose Machine Gun Sustained Fire (GPMG SF) course; a Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) course; Assault Engineer (AE) training; 81mm Mortar dry training and live firing attacks from individual up to Company Group level.

The exercise concluded with a Company Group advance to contact with direct fire support.

The 116 square kilometre ranges at Sennelager, just outside Paderborn are home to a replica town for urban warfare training – ‘Tin City’, originally modelled on Northern Ireland in the 1980s at the height of the Troubles – as well as extensive open spaces for more general infantry training.

Commando Phoenix was the culmination of 12 months training and was witnessed by a number of key personnel within the Corps, including Deputy Commandant General Royal Marines, Deputy Commander 3 Commando Brigade and Deputy Commander Maritime Reserves, as well as the Minister for Defence Veterans, Reserves and Personnel. 

Training doesn’t really end when you get your green beret. The next challenge is to make myself more deployable and more of an asset to the Corps.

Marine Julian Kiley

Supported by elements of the Regular Royal Marines, including 43 Commando and Commando Training Centre, the exercise aimed to improve individual and team battlefield skills in order to provide highly-trained personnel for potential operations with the Royal Marines and wider Armed Forces.

Marine Julian Kiley, 30, said: “Training doesn’t really end when you get your green beret. The next challenge is to make myself more deployable and more of an asset to the Corps.

“I’m out here doing the heavy machine gun course. It puts the onus more on a team, working together around one weapon system to become as accurate and efficient as you can.”

Designed to be even more challenging than the previous year, the exercise also provided the opportunity for the Phase 2 Marines to conduct a survival training package, one of the key elements required to pass onto the trained strength of the RMR, after completing Phase 1 training and the Reserve forces Commando Course.   

Lt Col Richard Maltby, Commanding Officer of Royal Marines Reserve Bristol said: “The men are enjoying it immensely.

Exercise Commando Phoenix provides an excellent opportunity for them to hone their live firing and fieldcraft skills, and the fantastic ranges at Sennelager offer a great location to conduct this training.”