Royal Marine Commandos are elite, specially trained soldiers operating anywhere in the world carrying out operations for the Royal Navy.
A Royal Marines Commando is a highly-trained and specialist soldier, trained to be resilient, strong and extra-tough, not to mention having specific expertise in all manner of amphibious operations. The Commandos are classed as an “elite” unit within the British military, putting them up alongside other top echelon outfits such as the Special Air Service, the Parachute Regiment and the Special Boat Service.
All of the above and the Royal Marine Commandos share a common progeny, being formed during the Second World War to fight in all the theatres of war. After the war most of this special commando unit was disbanded, though the Royal Marines survived to become 3 Commando Brigade, which is now the main commando capability for both the Royal Marines and the British Armed Forces.
However, despite front-line combat at sea and on land being the raison d’etre for the Royal Marines Commandos, they also take part in emergencies all over the globe, whether they be peacekeeping or assisting with the recovery from natural disasters. This of course makes the Commando a vitally important tool for armed forces, as they are a flexible and highly professional team, meaning they can be deployed at short notice to almost any type of situation.
The Royal Marines Commandos are, by dint of their selection process and entry requirements, an all-male unit. This is mainly due to the fact that the Commandos are trained to a superlatively high level and must show almost superhuman fitness and strength. Also, this male-only policy is in line with the government prohibition of women serving in front-line duties. This is not to say that some women would not be capable of passing the arduous selection process, it is just the case that, at this time, government rules preclude female applicants for this particular role.
Of course, as with any organisation, especially one organised by rank like the armed forces, pay is commensurate with the amount of experience you have gained and the rank you are. Below are some rough figures that you can expect to earn:
- On entry to the Royal Marines, you can expect to receive, during training, around £13,500 per annum.
- On completion of training and with promotion, this can go up from £16,000 to £28,000 per annum.
- NCOs (non-commissioned officers) can expect an annual salary ranging from £32,000 to 36,000.
- NCOs in more senior positions, such as Warrant Officers, can expect their earnings to be around the £45,000 mark.
As this is a military post, which will entail travel, relocation and special hours, there are different supplements and payments made if you are, for instance, stationed overseas or have special duties.
Being a military role, your daily routine will depend on where you are and what you are tasked to do. The details below, however, will give you a good idea of what is involved.
- If on base, keeping your fitness up and attending training drills and lectures as appropriate.
- Keeping weapons and kit clean and well-maintained.
- One of the teams is a rapid reaction force, which has to be ready to deploy at a moment’s notice – of course you will have to be fully and continuously prepared if you are part of this team.
- On operations you must carry out military manoeuvres and operations as directed by your superiors, whether they be overtly aggressive actions or peacekeeping or assistive duties.
- Giving verbal and/or written reports on any actions you and your team are involved in.
- A responsibility incumbent upon all Royal Marines is always to behave in the correct manner, as you are upholding the reputation of the British Armed Forces and it is important to maintain a professional image.
Put simply, there are no formal prerequisite qualifications for joining the Royal Marine Commandos. Instead, to enlist and be considered you must pass a specific recruitment process.
There is first a series of tests, which measure your literacy, numeracy and mechanical comprehension, then an in-depth interview and a rigorous medical examination. Due to the testing nature of the training, there is also a fitness test, which consists of
“..2 x 2.4km runs; the first run to be completed within 12m 30s, the second run, to be best effort, but within 10m 30s, with a minute rest in between the two runs”.
These runs are also carried out on a 2 degree incline, to make them slightly more testing. If you pass these satisfactorily you then go on to the Potential Royal Marine Course (PRMC), which entails further physical tests and interviews and lasts about two and a half days. This might seem slightly daunting, but it is only to make sure you are up to the training; so as long as you are fit and determined do not be put off by the process.
You will have to display, or at least develop, the following skills and attributes to do this job successfully:
- Self-confidence and self-discipline
- A high level of physical fitness, stamina, energy and resilience
- The ability to take orders
- Good communication skills
- The ability to stay calm and think on your feet in pressurised situations
- A willingness to work in what can be dangerous situations
- A practical and adaptable attitude
- The personality to live in close proximity with a lot of people
In a job such as this it is hard to nail down definitive working conditions, as you can be in all manner of places! First and foremost though you can expect to spend a lot of your working life out of doors, whether it be on training or just keeping your own physical fitness up. Whilst at home or on base you will work in shifts given to you by a superior, and a normal 8am-5pm can happen, depending on what is required. If you are on one of the rapid reaction forces, you will have to reside within a certain distance of your base so that if necessary you can get there quickly.
The working conditions on deployment can vary: you could be sent to one of the current operations in the Middle East, with searing heat and sand, or to any of the other deployments, such as the windblown and chilly Falkland Islands. One thing that you must be aware of is that, whilst on operations, you will sometimes be working in highly dangerous combat situations, where you will be engaging an enemy in battle. If you are not prepared to do this, then being a Commando really isn’t for you!
Another thing to consider is the hours on operations. There are no shift patterns in a warzone, and you will be expected, at times, to work abnormal or extended hours. Furthermore, there is a serious physical aspect to work as Royal Marine Commando, and there are times when you might have to go with little sleep and still be expected to function. Being at the sharp end of the armed forces, you will be expected to be fit, ready and alert whenever you are needed, and this requires great energy and stamina even in adversity and when under strain.
There is no real experience you can gain to become a Royal Marine Commando; merely displaying the traits listed in the “Skills” section above and passing the selection tests is all that is needed. Of course, an experience of fitness work and/or uniformed services would be of advantage to you, but they are not specifically required.
Unsurprisingly there is not a lot of call for highly-trained, elite amphibious troops in civilian life! The main employer of Royal Marine Commandos is, of course, the Royal Navy, who recruit, administer and manage the Commandos. Their website is in the “Related Links” section below.
As with any military career, the Royal Navy do not want their recruits to stand still. They encourage constant evolution in their recruits’ lives, and after the highly rigorous 32 week training course held at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) at Lympstone in Devon you complete a Public Service Apprenticeship. After passing out and gaining your Green Beret you can choose to specialise, in transport or communications for example, and you will be encouraged to take City & Guilds, NVQs and other qualifications pertaining to your specialism.
The Royal Marine Commandos, like the rest of the armed forces, are structured on a rank system, and through experience and proven ability you can advance up the ranks, gaining more responsibility and an increased salary. There is even the opportunity to become an NCO when you reach the required level of experience and aptitude.
Finally, if you decide to leave the Royal Marines, you can take the qualifications you have gained and put them to use in “civvy street”, meaning whatever you’ve specialised in can work for you outside the forces too.
Daniel Raggett, aged 21, from Coventry is a Royal Marine Commando.
What is your job title?
My specific job title is C3S Systems Operator, but that is part of the Royal Marine Commando setup.
Have you been in the forces long?
I have been involved with the forces for five years, so basically straight out of school when I was 16.
What did you make of the recruitment process?
The army recruitment process, I found, was very well run, swift and also realistic; however, the descriptions of some of the units and job titles could have been a little clearer.
Royal Marine Commando training is notoriously difficult – how did you find it and have you got any tips on how to get through it from your own experience?
The commando training is a very arduous, demanding course that is designed to put you to the extreme test and, to be honest, I found it extremely difficult. I also believe anyone else who has done the course would say the same! Also don't be expecting to get much sleep; there is no time for that on this course!
The best tips that come to me are:
- Make sure you and your kit are in top condition and ensure that you are in a good physical state with no little niggling injuries because they will only get worse on this course.
- Make sure all your kit is at a high, serviceable standard - get any of the above wrong and you will not pass.
- Make sure you are 100% motivated and ready for every hurdle that will come your way – you WILL get knocked down but you must be ready to pick yourself up.
- Finally, stick to your military values - selfless commitment, courage, loyalty, integrity, discipline, and respect for others. If you do this, you should be just fine.
Sounds serious! What’s a typical day like in your line of work?
When you’re in barracks work is quite chilled out - this is mainly due to how busy the forces have become, so they let us have it a little easier in camp. I start a normal working day at 8am, go for a run or some kind of physical training for 1-2 hours then get back in at 10.30-11, then do basic jobs that need doing and maybe a bit of refresher training on whatever your specific job might be. You can expect to finish a normal day at 4 or 5pm usually. Of course on operation this all goes to pot and you could be working all the time!
What do you like about being a Royal Marines Commando?
The job is very spontaneous; you can walk into work one day and be told you’re deploying to the USA for a month, as has just happened to me. So, if you don't like routine, it’s the job for you. It’s also true that you get to travel the world in the forces; in my five years I’ve been to Belize, Germany, Switzerland, Mexico, the US, Afghanistan, Norway and Belgium, so you do get to travel a lot, which I like.
What do you dislike about being a Royal Marine Commando?
The job requires your absolute 100% commitment all the time, and this is very demanding. Now that I am married and have a child, with another on the way, it’s become harder for me because you’re always away, so then the relationship you have suffers. My personal opinion is that the forces is a single man’s world, but an enjoyable single man’s world where the money and job are brilliant and where you’re always travelling to and seeing somewhere new.
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
The best advice I could give is to make sure that you are joining for the right reasons (not just because you need money or because you can't get any other job) because you will be found out and won’t last the training. If you are going to join then get all the information you can and then decide which branch you want to join - the army, the navy or the RAF - as there is a whole range of jobs and you should pick one that suits you.
I know you are coming out soon; what kind of job are you looking to move on to?
It’s a bit hard to say what my next job might be. I think I would try and stay in some kind of service, whether it be the police, fire service or prison service, as it wouldn't be too much of a change from my current role.
Finally, is there any sort of inside information you can give to someone considering this career?
As inside info goes there is not much I can help you with as it is very black and white. Just as long as you stay on track, do well through training and once you get to your unit have the drive still to do your very best then you will go a long way in the forces and be picking up ranks before you know it.