U.S. Marines, British Commandos Train Together at Exercise Red Dagger

Marines with 6th Engineer Support Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group, are partnering with British army engineers from the 131 Commando Squadron during Exercise Red Dagger that began here May 12.

The reserve Marines supporting this fifth iteration of training are based out of five locations: Portland, Oregon; Battle Creek, Michigan; Peoria, Illinois; Folsom, Pennsylvania; and Millington, Tennessee.

“Every year we alternate where the integrated training between the Marines and commandos will take place,” said Marine Corps Maj. Timothy B. McGovney, company commander of Exercise Red Dagger, 6th ESB. “This year happens to be at Fort Indiantown Gap.”

Ideal Training Environment

Fort Indiantown Gap is an ideal training environment as it provides the Marines and British commandos a perfect area to enhance their skills, officials said. This year’s exercise concludes May 25.

“We are really looking forward to making the most out of the facilities the Marines have here in the United States and particularly the built-up urban environment on Fort Indiantown Gap,” said British army 2nd Lt. David A. Grant, support troop commander, 131 Commando Squadron Royal Engineers.

The U.S. Marines and British commandos have plans to conduct combat pistol training, offensive and defensive military operations on urbanized terrain, or MOUT, and a series of vertical and horizontal engineering and welding projects.

The first half of the two-week exercise will consist of a series of ranges and tactical instruction.

Rifle Marksmanship Training

“We will be teaching rifle marksmanship with the M16’s, M4’s and M9’s,” McGovney said. “Tables five and six, which are short range engagements, will be conducted both during the day and then again at night with the night operations and night vision goggles.”

While integrating the Marines and British commandos into four platoons, they will give all junior-ranking officers a chance to be involved and lead the platoons.

“Two of the platoon commanders are Marine lieutenants,” McGovney said. “The other two platoons will have British commando equivalents as their platoon commanders.”

Even though the troops do not share the same procedures, equipment and tactics, they are able to learn from each other’s knowledge.

“We are learning exactly how they would employ their own weapons, under what conditions they may use their weapons, and how they maintain dispersion in a tactical environment with the gear and equipment they have,” McGovney said of his British counterparts.

Half of the training will provide opportunities for the engineers and metal workers to practice their field craft.

Engineering Projects

“The second half of this exercise is the engineering projects, where we will be putting up vertical siding construction pieces and installing new flooring in an old World War II barracks,” McGovney explained. “We also have plans for our heavy equipment operators to dig trenches at a local range, to practice survivability positions within a tactical environment.

The British commandos said they appreciate the opportunity to train with the Marines and they look forward to learning how to use the Marines’ weapons, equipment, and tactics.

“This exercise will be a big skill exchange,” Grant said. “It will create a wider appreciation of what each individual unit does and enhance our skills.”

“These are our allies across the Atlantic and we want to be able to go into theater with them and be able to operate, whether adjacently, joint, or bilaterally,” McGovney said of his British partners. It’s important to continue this integrated training in order to shoot, move and communicate together. Both nations have different capabilities and equipment that we can bring to the table to accomplish the same mission.”