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The role of the Royal Marines Reserve (RMR) [1] of the United Kingdom is to support the regular Royal Marines[2] in times of war or national crisis. The RMR consists of some 600-1000 trained ranks distributed among the five RMR Centres within the UK. About 10 percent of the RMR are working with the Regular Corps on long-term attachments in all of the Royal Marines regular units.

All the volunteers within the RMR pass through the same rigorous commando course as the regulars. The former may be civilians with no previous military experience or men who transfer from the Territorial Army (the reserve component of the British Army) or are former regular Royal Marines.


The mission of the RMR is to act as a general reserve to the Royal Marines command and to promote a nationwide link between the military and civilian community.[1] The official mission statement:

  • Reinforce the Royal Marines when required, with individuals and sub-units worldwide.
  • Promote a nationwide link between the Royal Marines and civilian communities.
  • Provide a nationwide infrastructure for strengthening and replacing the regular forces in times of national emergency.

The History of the RMR

The RMR can trace their roots back to the Royal Marines Forces Volunteer Reserve (RMFVR) formed in the City of London under the Royal Marines Act 1948. The RMFVR were officially formed on the 5 November 1948, at a ceremonial parade on the Honourable Artillery Company's Artillery Ground, the same place the Royal Marines were formed on 28 October 1664.

In the beginning, Reservists were chiefly former hostilities only (HO) personnel. They were mainly, but not solely, Royal Marines who had gained experience in World War II and trained in order to support the Corps against the threat from the Soviet Bloc. However, today the majority of Reservists have no previous military experience. Their transition from civilian to Marine, is therefore more challenging. Moreover, 21st century threats compel the training to be more comprehensive to equip the Marine with an arsenal of skills to face any eventuality. The RMR have adapted to these changes and remains flexible, continuing to train in order to support properly the Corps that Sir Winston Churchill described as "The finest in the world".[citation needed]

RMR recruit training

RMR recruit Training and the Commando Course are not for the fainthearted. It requires real commitment and determination, as it puts great demands on the recruit's spare time and dedication in order to complete RMR Basic Training and prepare for the Commando Course. Over a period of 12–15 months, recruits are required to attend training at their RMR Units, one evening a week and usually two weekends a month. In addition, when not training with the RMR they must work on their physical fitness in their own time. To undergo and complete RMR Basic Training a recruit must remain self-motivated and dedicated, while balancing this with the support, co-operation and understanding of families, girlfriends, wives and employers. However, it is these very challenges that attract the calibre of recruit the RMR are looking for. The fact that they are willing to undergo one of the toughest courses any Reservist can attempt and to have the pride of wearing the coveted Green Beret that signifies their achievement marks them out.

Phase 1 - Basic Military Skills

Phase 1 lasts for at least 6 months and is the beginning of RMR Basic Training. It is designed to introduce recruits to the rudiments of Individual Skills and Fieldcraft. Recruits must complete 6 Weekend training periods in addition to training for two hours for one evening a week. On completion of their Phase 1 training, recruits are required to attend a 2-week course at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM).

Phase 1 Recruits wear the blue beret with red badge backing issued to RM personnel who have not passed the Commando Course.

Basic Fieldcraft Instruction on how to fend for themselves under field conditions. This covers the construction of different types of shelters ("bivvies"), the use of the different types of ration pack, how to maintain themselves and their standards of hygiene under arduous conditions, camouflage and concealment.

Navigation Theoretical and practical aspects of finding their way over all types of terrain by day and night.

Weapon Training Instruction on how to handle, maintain, strip and clean their 5.56 mm Rifle.

Physical Training - is important from the outset, it is progressive and prepares recruits for Battle Physical Training (BPT) in Phase 2. Physical Training periods concentrate on introducing and developing the techniques required for rope climbing, regains, fireman's carry and obstacle courses with an introduction to speed marching and load carries. However, it is necessary for recruits to continue fitness training in their own time in order to build their strength and endurance to the required level.

Field Exercises - recruits are taught and tested on how they fend for themselves under field conditions, they soon learn that their comfort and survival in the field and on operations begins with good personal organisation and preparedness. To bring these points home there is usually an inspection every morning - the NCOs have an eagle eye for detail.

PHASE 1 Course at CTCRM

The two-week course is designed as a confirmation of the recruit's individual and physical skills to an acceptable and comparable level to his regular counterpart. The course also introduces the recruits to CTCRM and provides an insight into the conduct of the Commando Tests while assessing the skills learnt and practiced at his unit.

Phase 2 - Tactics Training & Commando Course

Phase 2 lasts for at eight to ten months and is designed to equip recruits with the skills and knowledge required to act as a Marine in a Commando Unit. In addition to preparing them for the rigours of the Reserve Forces Commando Course. Battle Physical Training - BPT - is designed to develop physical military skills, strength and endurance, whilst preparing recruits to withstand mental pressure. The BPT is designed to prepare Recruits for their BPT Pass Out and the Commando Course.

Physical Training is now undertaken wearing personal load carrying equipment (PLCE/Fighting Order/Webbing). Throughout Phase 1B training, weight is gradually added to the Recruit's Fighting Order until it weighs the 22 lb (10.0 kg) required during the Commando Course. In addition the Recruits will carry their Rifle (a further 10 lbs).

Fieldcraft and Tactics - The development and practise of the recruit's Individual and Fieldcraft skills continues. Tactical instruction begins with Basic Patrolling Techniques before moving onto Recce Patrols, Observation Posts and finally Fighting Patrols and Ambushes.

Live Field Firing Exercise (FFX) - RMR Recrutis after passing the required build up packages at their units should conduct a two week fied firing package conducted at CTCRM with a regular Troop. Recruits are introduced to realistic live firing exercises conducted on field firing areas these progress from individual shooting on a simple range through to a live firing troop attack involving 30 Marines. Amphibious Exercise - Marines are taught the theory and drills associated with Amphibious Warfare. Practical training then takes place using a variety of offshore and inshore craft during day and night culminating in an Amphibious Exercise, where the Marines conduct amphibious raids from the sea.

Reserve Forces Commando Course at CTCRM

Prior to attending this course all recruits must pass the confirmation course held at CTCRM. This consists of a 6 mile speed march, bottom field pass out and an endurance course. Those who are successful are awarded the cap comforter and may continue on to the commando course.

The two week Reserve Forces Commando Course (RFCC) at CTCRM is the culmination of the Recruit's Basic Training. The course is designed to test whether the Recruit's professional and physical abilities are of the standard required of a Commando.

As well as testing skills they have learnt and rehearsed on exercise and in the classroom they have new skills to master on this course such as vertical assault training on the cliffs of Dartmoor, Helicopter Operations and Dunker Drills.

On successful completion of the RFCC, at the end of the 30 Miler the RMR Recruits is awarded the coveted Green Beret.

It is not uncommon for the pass rate to be very low, despite initial recruit intakes to be high. On average should 60 join a unit at Phase 1, there will be 3 or 4 who obtain the Green Bere[citation needed]t.

Further Training and Specialist Qualification Training

On completion of their Phase 2 Training, Marines are considered fully trained Riflemen capable of serving with the Regular Corps. Marines are now able to embark on Further Training such as Mountain and Cold Weather Warfare Training. In time Marines will also have the opportunity to attend Specialist Courses and gain Specialist Qualifications (SQ) such as Assault Engineer.

Special Qualifications

After gaining experience as a General Duties Rifleman (GD) within their RMR Units Marines, subject to suitability, will then be given the opportunity to attend Specialist Courses and gain a Specialist Qualification (SQ).

RMR Units have the responsibility of providing a pool of suitably trained volunteers for certain specialisations in order to augment the regular Corps if required. These specialisations are Landing Craft Coxswains, Assault Engineers, Heavy Weapons (Mortars) and Swimmer Canoeists. In addition there are many other specialisations open to RMR ranks.

Additional Qualifications

In addition to the Specialist Qualifications on offer, ranks are able to attend specific courses to gain a number of Additional Qualifications (AdQuals) to increase their employability with the Corps. Having gained certain AdQuals, ranks can join specialist organisations within the RMR. For example, a rank qualified as a Recce Leader would be in a position to join the RMR Brigade Patrol Troop.

The majority of courses are abridged versions of those undertaken by regulars, courses usually last two to four weeks. Four-week courses are divided up into separate two-week packages. As reservists progress through the ranks in the RMR, they can attend further courses in their chosen specialisation that are of a more advanced nature (e.g.. LC3 - Marine; LC2 - Corporal; LC1 - Sergeant). However, many reservists are given the opportunity to attend the full courses undertaken by regulars if they are able to make the time available.

Reservists continue to develop and practise their chosen specialisation or AdQual within their RMR Units. In addition members of the RMR are encouraged to work, exercise and operate with their specialist counterparts within the regular Corps whenever possible. There are constant opportunities for Full Time Reserve Service (FTRS) for specialists within the Regular Corps.

Life as a Reservist


RMR Mountain training in Wales 2008

On earning their Green Beret following completion of Phase 2 Training, Marines join 'Commando Company' within their RMR units. Only on completion of Phase 2 of Basic Training are Marines considered fully trained General Duties (GD) Riflemen, capable of serving with the Regular Corps on Exercise or Deployment.

Commando Company Training

The purpose of Commando Company is to continue to expand and build on the Marine's individual and team skills through further training, in order to develop Marines capable of deploying with and in aid of the Royal Marines Command (RMC).

Within their RMR Units Marines will train so as to consolidate their basic soldiering skills such as Weapon Training, First Aid, Signals, Nuclear Biological Chemical (NBC) Warfare, Physical Fitness, etc. In addition to learning and developing more advanced skills such as conducting amphibious raids and learning how to conduct Operations in Built Up Areas (OBUA).

Throughout each year Commando Company conduct a number of weekend exercises where they are given the opportunity to learn and develop new skills. For example - a unit live field firing exercise, where they would employ and practise weapon drills, marksmanship and troop tactics using live ammunition. During the lead up to any exercise the Marines would normally use the week night training periods to revise or learn the skills required during the forthcoming exercise.

In addition to participating in Commando Company Training within their own RMR Units, Marines have the opportunity to attend a wide variety of training courses. For example - military parachute course, combat medic course, recce leader etc. They assist with the annual charitable fund raising event the Dartmoor Beast. [3]

Serving with the Corps

All trained ranks within the Royal Marines Reserve have the opportunity to serve with the regular Corps anywhere in the world, on exercise or operations, whenever their time and circumstances permit. These periods can vary from 2 weeks up to 6 months and provide RMR ranks with excellent scope to learn and develop new skills. These opportunities normally occur on a regular basis and are advertised within the RMR Units.

Further Training

The Royal Marines are trained to fight in many places where the environment is as hostile as the enemy. Members of the RMR also have the opportunity to train in these environments, either with RMR Units or the Corps.



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