Royal Marines Commando Training Centre assault course Photographed by Matt Austin
Posted on September 9, 2013
IN MAY 2013 164 recruit troop were photographed in week four of Royal Marines training doing a Mud Run at Lympstone in the river Ex estuary. Now four months later they are in week 20 of training and half of the original recruits are left.
They are all fitter than they’ve been in their lives and are already trained soldiers. Now they face the biggest test of their careers so far – passing the notorious Commando Training Centre assault course. Failure means their training stops.
The recruits have been preparing for months doing Battle Physical Training. At first they just work on the assault course with boots and combat clothing. As the training progresses they add weight and by the end they do it with 32 lbs of equipment. That’s the equivalent of 14 litres of water!
They have four tests to pass:
The first test is simple – they have to climb to the top of a 30 foot rope and shout their name. This would be hard enough for any person but with extra weight it takes superb fitness and strength to achieve.
The second test is the assault course. This must be done in five minutes. It includes a six foot brick wall, monkey bars over a water tank, crawling across a rope chasm and a tunnel. It stretches over 400 metres and again, is a massive challenge carrying equipment including a rifle.
The third test is considered by many to be the hardest – the firemans carry. Each recruit must pick up a man their own weight and carry him fireman’s style 200 metres in 90 seconds! If the recruit weighs 12 stone and has over 2 stone of equipment it means he has to run 200 metres carrying 28 stone – that’s 400 lbs!
The fourth test is the most technical. The recruit has to crawl across a rope suspended 10 ft above a large water tank. Half way across they have to swing under the rope and hang with their arms extended and then get back on top of the rope and continue. Sounds simple, but it actually requires technique and upper body strength.
If the recruit passes all of these tests then the Battle Physical Training is complete and they continue training. If they fail any element they have two further chances that week to pass it. If they still have not passed they leave their troop and go into remedial training where their weaknesses are remedied.
Once the recruits have passed all of this the easy part is over and they are considered ready to start Commando training!
“The tests may seem daunting,” says Warrant Officer Richard White from Commando Training Centre. “But in reality the training is progressive in nature, so things that might appear impossible to any rational person can be achieved by building the recruits up to the right level of fitness.”
“We can teach anyone to pass these tests,” he adds. “They just need the individual determination to ‘crack-on’ when the going gets tough. That’s why Royal Marines are among the best soldiers in the world.”