British Royal Marines

British Royal Marines 5

The Royal Marines trace their history back to 28 October 1664 when Charles II sanctioned the formation of a regiment for sea service to be known as The Duke of York and Albany’s Maritime Regiment of Foot. On 24 July 1704 Marines under Sir George Rooke took possession of the Rock of Gibraltar and have retained “Gibraltar” as a battle honour. Briefly disbanded, they were re-formed in 1775 and have been in continuous existence ever since. The Corps’ motto is ‘Per mare per terram’, meaning ‘By sea, by land’.

Today the Royal Marines consist of 6,700 men grouped in 3 Commando Brigade, Commachio Group, Commando training Centre RM, RM Poole, the Amphibious Trials and Training Unit Royal Marines (AATURM), Royal Marines School of Music (RMSM) and Royal Marine Reserve units.

3 Cdo Bde

Commanded by a Brigadier with his HQ in Plymouth 3 Cdo Bde is a key contributor to the recently formed Joint Rapid Deployment Force (JRDF). It consists of:

HQ and Signals Squadron Royal Marines based at Stonehouse Barracks, Plymouth, Brigade Patrol Troop a force of 24 men working in six four man teams, Y Troop the Brigade’s electronic warfare specialists, Communications Troop which provides secure communications, Air Defence Troop equipped with Javelin SAM, Royal Marines Police Troop, Tactical Air Control Parties which works with the Royal Navy and RAF.

40 Cdo

40 Commando is based at Norton Manor camp, Taunton, 42 Commando at Bickleigh Barracks, Plymouth, 45 Commando Arbroath, Scotland, 29 Commando Rgt RA (Army) include 1 Bty (TA); 20 Commando Air Defence Battery Royal Artillery, 1 Commando Logistics Regiment (joint service) based at Chivenor, 59 Independent Squadron RE (Cdo engineers 1 Army 1 TA), 847 Naval Air Sqn 1 light 2 support helicopter formations is based at Yeovilton; 539 Assault Squadrons based at Turnchapel, Plymouth. Medium Reconnaissance is provided by B Squadron The Household Cavalry regiment with Scimitar and Striker armoured vehicles.

Commachio Group

Commachio Group is based at Arbroath and is tasked with North Sea oil rig protection; the Landing Craft and Amphibious Training Wing is based at Poole. ATTURM is based at Instow, the RMSM at Portsmouth. There are RMR units in London, Bristol, Birkenhead and Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

The Commandant General who is based at Whale Island in Portsmouth commands the Royal Marines; the Royal Marines include men and women who are all volunteers drawn from all three services. Recruits, both officers and men pass through a 30 week training course at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) at Lympstone in Devon. The course emphasises team work and includes a 30 mile timed march with weapons and equipment.

Naval Special Warfare Development Group – DEVGRU

Naval Special Warfare Development Group - DEVGRU

Naval Special Warfare Development Group or DEVGRU for short, is the US Navy’s counter-terrorist unit. Where Delta Force handles landbased CT operation, DEVGRU handles CT operations at sea. DEVGROUP is to many better know as SEAL Team Six, which it was first call on its creation in 1980. ST6 conducted several operations throughout the 1980s. During the invasion of Grenada, ST6 took part in several missions. One of the missions was to rescue Governor Sir Paul Scoon, which they successfully did. They defended the governor’s mansion for nearly 24 hours, taking heavy fire from enemy forces. Only one SEAL was wounded during this operation.

During the 1980s ST6 grew a bad reputation within the Navy. The main reason for this was the unit’s founder Cdr. Richard Marcinko. His controversial running of the unit gave ST6 many enemies. This resulted in charges of conspiracy and bribery that let to Marcinko being sentenced to 2 years in prison. After Marcinko left ST6 the unit was renamed to DEVGRU.

There is a lot of secrecy surrounding DEVGRU, officially it’s responsible for the developing and testing of naval special warfare weapons, techniques and equipment.

DEVGRU’s mission is to provide intelligence and counter-terrorism services for the Dept of the Navy and the overall U.S. Special Operations Command, in addition to providing management for the development and testing of technologies under consideration for use by Naval Special Warfare forces such as SEALs. By these aformentioned responsibilities, it is obvious to say here that ST6 is the Maritime (Naval) equivalent of the Army’s elite Delta Force. In fact, both units train together from time to time as well as deploy together when the need arrises. The unit is currently based out of Dam Neck, Virginia and administrative control is under Naval Special Warfare Command.

They was responsible for catching Usama Bin Laden, most wanted terrrorist.

Based: Dam Neck, Virginia
Weapons: Whatever they want and need!

Operation NIMROD: The siege of Iranian embassy in London

Legendary SAS hero - John McAleese 5
Siege of Iranian embassy in London, 1980

The modern warfare and usage of special forces were especially highlighted after Munich 1972 and unsuccessful hostage rescue operation. European governments started creating units for special purposes and detachments inside military units which could be able to act in cases of terrorism.

Great Britan had enormous issues with domestic terrorism, but one event changed the world and the sense of special forces. It started on April 30, 1980, at 1130 hours when a group of six terrorists stormed Iranian embassy in London (Princess Gate 16). Terrorists from a group called the Democratic Revolutionary Movement for the Liberation of Arabistan (DRMLA) took 21 people as hostage. Their demands were simple, in order to release the hostages unharmed, they demanded that 91 prisoners in Arabistan be released by Iranian authorities.

The deadline was set to May 1, 1980, at 1200 hours. The deadline was postponed to 1400 hours when the Metropolitan Police transmitted a message from the terrorist to the press. This deadline passed without any actions from either side.

Siege of Iranian embassy in London Sim Harris and SAS operator - Operation NIMROD: The siege of Iranian embassy in London
Sim Harris making his escape across the first-floor balcony, as ordered by the masked SAS operator (far right)

The negotiations continue for next few days until the day of May 5, 1980, when the tension in the embassy broke through as the besieged terrorists started losing their patience. The terrorist executed the embassy Press Officer Abbas Lavasani. Just before 1800 hours of the same day, his body was dumped on the pavement outside the embassy. This was the turning point of the siege. The British Government had decided not to act until the terrorist was killing hostages.

The Plan of overtaking Iranian embassy

The British Special Air Service (SAS) was present on the site from the first day of the siege. They had set up sniper positions and were monitoring the situation. SAS established a command post on the sixth-floor of Kingston House, which was the main point from where they were able to have clean sight on the embassy. The SAS members involved in this operation were assigned to B Squadron, which was just assigned to the counter-terrorist duties.

The plan for the rescue was that the SAS operators would be divided into two teams, Red and Blue. The Red team would abseil down from the roof to second-floor balcony while the four members of Blue team would jump from the first floor of the nearby building to the first-floor balcony at the embassy. The rest of the both Red and Blue team were tasked with their entry position at the back of the embassy from where they easily could rush and go in through ground floor windows of the embassy.

Execution of Operation Nimrod

At May 5, 1980, in 1858 hours, a Home Secretary William Whitelaw personally authorised Operation NIMROD, the SAS operation of overtaking Iranian Embassy. At 1907 hours SAS take over control of the siege from Metropolitan police. At 1922 hours, SAS teams were in position and an only minute later, at 1923 hours, members of Red team started their descent from the roof. Suddenly the mission was in danger, a member of Red team got stuck 4.5m above the balcony and it at the moment it looked like the mission could go in opposite direction.

john mcaleese - Operation NIMROD: The siege of Iranian embassy in London
John McAleese: Leader of the SAS team that ended the 1980 siege of the Iranian embassy in London

The other members tried to help him free while the commanding SAS officer acted quickly and issued an order to the rest of the assault teams to proceed with the mission without cutting loose the member of Red team who stuck above the balcony. The rest of Red team hit the second-floor balcony and went in.

The one part of Blue team rushed from the undergrowth and went in through-groundfloor windows. At the same time remaining members of Blue Team jump onto the first-floor balcony. Inside the embassy, the terrorists were caught by surprise. The SAS starts to sweep the embassy. Room by room, door by door, the SAS made his way to the two remaining rooms where the hostages were divided into two groups. The men were held in the telex Room and the women in Cypher room, both on the second floor.

At 1940 hours, SAS reported that operation was over. In total, they apprehended one wounded terrorist while killing six others and saving all hostages. The SAS quickly disappeared from the scene before the press showed up.

The hijacking of Air France flight 8969

The hijacking of Air France Flight 8969 in December, 1994 (GIGN assaulted plane and freed hostages)

For the passengers and crew onboard of Air France flight 8969 everything was normal on December 24, 1994, until four terrorists from the Algerian terrorist group GIA (Islamic Armed Group) disguised as security agents stormed the plane at Houari Boumediene airport in Algeria. At first, people onboard didn’t have any suspicion because the alleged agenst got onto the plane and regulary stareted to check passports. Suddenly, they pulled out their Uzi’s and AK-47. The Air France flight 8969 was hijacked. Terorrists barricaded themselvs and the first thing they did was the murder of two passengers. To prove their commitment, they killed an Algerian police officer and a Vietnamese diplomat.

Only 15 minutes later, the French government was notified about the hijacking through their own intelligence channels. French intelligence agents were already assigned to monitor Algerian military and police radio traffic where they found that something has happened on the airport. The government immediately put their elite counter-terrorism unit GIGN on standby.

GIGN deployment to Algeria

The Algerian interior minister personally led the negotiations with the terrorists, that used the pilot as a go-between. After four hours of negotiations, the members of notorious GIA cell agreed to release some of the hostages. From the descriptions the freed hostages gave, the Algerian intelligence services quickly identified the terrorists including their leader Abdul Abdullah Yahia. They seemed well planned and very cold-blooded.

Nearly nine hours into the crisis, the French government ordered GIGN to move. 35 GIGN commandos took off from Paris, to fly to Palma De Mallorca in Spain where they should wait for further orders. The French government couldn’t persuade the Algerian government to accept help from the GIGN.

From Algeria to Marseilles

The day after the hijacking, the terrorists wanted to take off and fly to Paris. The Algerian security forces weren’t willing to let the plane to take off. The hijackers threaten to kill a French passenger and did when the Algerians didn’t give in to their demands. The French Prime Minister phone his Algerian counterpart and demanded they led the plane leave. Finally, on December 26, 1994, the plane left Algeria and headed for France.

At the same day, the plane carrying the GIGN commandos was already in the air heading for Algeria but was ordered to turn around and head for Marseilles. Additional GIGN reinforcements brought to Marseilles, so the total number of commandos were 51. The aircraft carrying the GIGN commandos touched down before the hijacked aircraft.

When the hijacked aircraft carrying terrorists and hostages was safely down at Marseilles, French negotiators immediately started their task. They took their time, meanwhile disguised GIGN commandos examined the plane for booby-traps at the possible entry points and placed listening devices on the outside of the plane. The official negotiations continued for hours and the terrorist got impatient and wanted to take off again and leave Marseilles.

Green light for GIGN

In the afternoon of December 26, 1994, at 1645 hours the terrorist open one of the doors and opened fire at the control tower. Fearing the terrorists would kill more hostages the GIGN was given green light.

At 1717 hours three eight-man teams went into action. Using three mobile ramps they approached the aircraft but were spotted by the terrorist who opened fire. The first team went through the front door and the first six commandos that went into the aircraft were injured. The other two teams went into the aircraft through the aircraft’s rear doors. The heavy firefight occurred, but after one and a half minute the first hostages were evacuated alongside the wounded commandos. The remaining terrorists retreated to the cockpit where they were pinned down.

The GIGN could storm the cockpit but didn’t dare since the terrorists still had the pilot and a steward with them. The co-pilot had jumped out one of the cockpits windows when the attack had started.

The two terrorists continued to exchange fire. A GIGN commando threw a flash-bang grenade through a cockpit window, but the grenade didn’t have much effect on the terrorists. During the standoff with the terrorists in the cockpit, and almost four minutes from the beginning of the action, all the hostages were evacuated except for the pilot and the steward who were still in the cockpit.

Air France Flight 8969 hijacking 2 - The hijacking of Air France flight 8969
The aftermath of extensive shooting during the standoff with the terrorists barricaded in the cockpit

GIGN snipers positioned on the roofs of the surrounding airport buildings were ordered to open fire on the cockpit. The firefight continued for several minutes, and suddenly the shooting stopped and over the radio the pilot told that all the terrorists were dead. The two remaining hostages were evacuated from the aircraft. Amazingly they were both unarmed.


A 17-minutes long attack had ended successfully. Over 1500 rounds had been fired, while four hijackers were killed. In total, three passengers were executed while the 173 people were saved. As a result of the damage to the aircraft, the A300 was written off.

The rescue of hostages abroad DC-9 Woyla

The rescue of hostages abroad DC-9 Woyla 3

In 28th March 1981, Garuda Indonesian Arlines flight GA 206, by DC-9 “Woyla” was en route from Palembang to Medan, a domestic flight between two Indonesian cities. The plane has flown from Jakarta in 0800, transit in Palembang, then destinated to Medan, arrival time estimated 1055. In the air, two passangers took of from their seats. One went to the cockpit, one stood in the aisle. By 1010, Woyla is completely under control of five hijackers, all in firearms. The hijacker in the cockpit ordered the pilot to fly the plane to Colombo, Sri Lanka, but the pilot said that the fuel won’t be enough. Then the plane is flew to Penang, Malaysia. The terrorists are from Jihad Commando group, Moslem radicals that responsible for the raid of police stations, military bases, and various sabotages in Indonesia during 1977-1981.

In the midday, Indonesian government has been on red alert. Indonesia also never dealt with serious hijacking before. The first case ever was in 1974, when a desperate marine hijacked a domestic flight for money, then he was killed by the pilot himself.

In the evening, the newly created Indonesian’s Special Force, Kophasanda, has borrowed another DC-9 from Garuda Airlines and used it for combat training.

The plan itself wasn’t good. Woyla has left Malaysia after refueling, bound to Don Muang, Thailand. An old female passenger was allowed to go in Malaysia. The terrorists have declared their demand: The release of Jihad Commando’s that have been imprisoned by Indonesian government, and US $ 1.5 million. They also demand a plane is prepared for the released prisoners, to an unnamed-yet destination. They have bomb set on the plane.

Things get harder for the Kophasanda commander. He suspects that the plane will be flown to a state in Middle East. But as the plane has been relocated from Malaysia, the step was going further for him. Also, US Ambassador has called him and told him that US really counts on him to the safety of American citizens abroad the flight. In 2100, 29th March, 35 members of Kophasanda left Indonesia in a DC-10, all wearing civilian clothes.

Thailand government itself didn’t agree much on Indonesian choice to use military force. They preferred negotation, the same way that ended the taking of Israeli embassy in Bangkok by Black September terrorists back in 1972. Finally, they let the military way, considering that the owner of the aircraft is Indonesian government, and all the terrorists are Indonesian nationals, from a Moslem extrimist group. Even, CIA’s chief in Thailand met Kopashanda to lend them flak jackets and breaching kits.

In 31st March, 0230, an American journalist on the top of a bus surrounding Don Muang, woke his comrades, international journalists from Indonesia, US, Thailand, Japan, Singapore, West Germany, France, and Australia. From the bushes, 500 metres from Woyla, armed soldiers are walking in silent. They brought three ladders. The plan was, blue team and red team will climb the wings and wait at the side doors. The windows of the plane have been blinded. While green team will breach the rear door, all will enter at the same time at the go-code.

0243, Thailand commando team moves, waiting in the runway to prevent the possibility of escaping terrorists. 0243, the go code has given. The three teams enter, but not at the same time. Green team entered first, only to find that a terrorist is alert in the rear side of the plane. A bullet struck the belly of an anti-terrorist member, uncovered by flak jacket. The hijacker killed himself then. Then blue team and red team entered, shot two others terrorists on sight, as the passengers ducked and did nothing but close their eyes in the middle of cross fire. The commando team shouted to the passangers, telling them to rush out. A hijacker, with grenade in hand, also ran outside, tried to throw it. But other passengers pinpointed him and the commando team finished him before the front door. The last terrorist was killed outside the plane.
0245, Then paramedic rushed to the plane, to rescue the pilot. He was shot by a terrorist during the raid.

However, US reporters are not really unhappy in the next minute. The CT drama couldn’t become headlines, as one more great-scale thing for US just happened: President Ronald Reagan shot him.

All terrorist is killed, while the “green side” victims are the pilot of Woyla and an anti-terrorist member. Asian Wall Street Journal, as well as Asian and European papers praised the good work by Indonesian Special Force. Indonesian intellegence itself later declared that the main goal of the terrorists’ organization was to throw the government and to create an Islamic state in Indonesia. It is suspected that they have asked for support to Islamic Republic of Iran, as the leader of the hijacker (the one that killed the CT member then shot himself) has written a letter to Ayatollah Khomeini, behalf of the Indonesian Islamic Revolutionary Council, asking for aid from Iran.

A must read letter written by a Navy SEAL who died two days after he wrote the letter

A must read letter written by Steve Vought, a Navy SEAL Team 8 2
(Photo: Illustration)

The following letter was written by PO1 Steven Voight of SEAL Team Eight two days before he was killed in an SH-60 helicopter crash in the Persian Gulf on 25 October 1996. This letter captures the essence of Steve and typifies the hours and months of the distinctively unglamorous and unappreciated side of a SEAL’s life on deployment. It was read by Steve’s sister, Martha, at the NAB Little Creek Base Chapel on 6 November 1996:

“Alarm goes off. I wake up. It’s 0600. Same time I woke up yesterday. And the day before. Actually since June 28, almost 120 days ago. Four months. That’s OK, though, because if anyone in the Persian Gulf tries to interfere with the policies of my sacred country, the United States of America, I’ll be there to stop them. Two months ago, it was anyone in the Mediterranean. Actually, we could stop anyone in the world.

“Breakfast time. Forty-five minute wait in line. Every meal is the same. Stand in line sweating. That’s OK, though. There are people in my country who neither know nor care that their freedom is being protected at this very moment. That too is OK, because I do know. I’m doing it.

“Go to work. Same routine day in and day out.It could be compared to being in jail except that the work we do is too hard and too dangerous to impose upon a common criminal. It would be considered inhumane. That’s OK, though, I understand freedom and the sacrifices that have to be made for freedom to be achieved. The life we live at the cost of our military members cannot have a price put on it. If you saw our paychecks, you would understand.

“Dinner time. Chicken and rice again. That’s OK. The opportunities we have in the States are limitless. There is nothing that any person cannot achieve if he/she has the heart. They don’t have those opportunities in the parts I’ve visited. They don’t even have Taco Bell.”

In memory of BM1 Steven M. Voight
10 August 1962-25 October 1996