Royal Marines: 2300AD
Royal Marines Commandos
The Royal Marines have claimed a place as a corps d elite within the ranks of the British forces since they took on the Commando role during the 2nd World War. They gained yet another high profile role with the establishment of off-world British colonies and an interstellar space force. The Army managed to break the Marines attempted monopoly on colonial forces but the Royal Marines made the job of providing military force to the Royal Space Navy their own. The Red RM Commandos tasked with this role are an elite within an elite, undergoing stringent selection and in-depth training. The Reds are a force that bridge both conventional and specialist roles and are on the cutting edge of British force projection.
'The OMC Henry Kaiser was a death trap. The Bugs had taken the place to use as a staging post in the far reaches of the Henry's Star system. Not a bad idea given that star's tendency to flare and put Crater's Spence Station out of action for the duration. Of course this now gave Admiral Bell the excuse he was looking for to capture a working Bug port and all that went with it. Unluckily for us it was 69 Commando who had to clear and capture it.
'We were a good solid pre-war regular unit. We'd seen some raiding action in the autumn of '01 and a couple of boarding missions at KMJ and QAS. More often than not we were teamed up with the Prince of Wales, an excellent ship. We'd been the first British reinforcements to Crater late in '02 when we'd cleared the orbital station and done a fair bit of fighting on the ground. No one could accuse us of being green.
'Rehearsals and planning took place on the captured 'O' terminal. We were getting good data from covert watchers we had staking out the OMC. Why the Bugs hadn't done a runner we didn't know, although we were picking up data from a Bug spook that was flitting on the edge of the system, evading the picket ships. Maybe they thought they had reinforcements coming.
'In any event we had several Marines with SP or Group experience leading the breach planning. We were reinforced by the Fleet Party from the KCI in addition to a company of Royal Alician Marines Commandos. Oh and some Aussie fleet specialists too. Some 7 rifle companies of us in total, almost 500 Reds, assaulted that station with a months solid training behind us. Her Majesties' finest, most highly trained troops, bar none, the maroon morons be damned.
'Fewer than two hundred of us survived it alive. It was a bloodbath. The unavoidable rules of zero-G combat in vacuum: you're hit, you're dead, combined with the complexities of storming operations that our colleagues on Crater and elsewhere were also learning the hard way. These weren't the semi-pro human raiders or hijackers we'd dealt with occasionally in the past. They were seasoned alien warriors and they taught us one hell of a lesson.'
Sergeant Caitlin O'Connor, X Company, 69 Commando, RM
The 'Red' Royal Marines trace their history to the birth of the Royal Space Navy during the Alpha Centauri War, when there was a requirement for troops that could be moved via space craft. Due to the space constraints on board early ships it was thought that only the best trained troops could be taken and those chosen would also be required not to be a liability when embarked and be able to take on their share of damage control duties.
Initially it was thought likely that a specially trained squadron of the RAF Regiment would be created to fill this role as a sop to the RAF after loosing the prestigious armed starship tasking. However the setbacks of the Alpha Centauri War meant that this option would take too long. Instead a combination of the powerful Royal Marines and Special Forces lobbies came up with an interim solution. Highly trained members of the SBS, reinforced with some SAS troopers would form the small shipboard teams. It was thought these soldiers' fighting qualities combined with experience in both deep diving and high altitude operations could fulfil the role quicker and more effectively than a force created from scratch.
The result was a force of 60 soldiers organised under the aegis of the reformed 62 Commando (itself one of the original designations for the SAS in 1941) and dispersed around a variety of armed ships. 62 Commando saw little action during the war, except for one boarding action on an Argentine armed merchantmen. The experience of 62 Commando found that utilising special forces soldiers for this role was largely a waste of expertise as they became bored very quickly and the SAS subsequently withdrew its contingent from the force.
62 Commando was reformed as a conventional unit with volunteers from the regular Commando Division and became a part of the British Tirane garrison where it was soon joined by the new 63 Commando. The problem of provision of ships troops was looked at again and it was decided to put specially selected Royal Marines through a special course of training provided first by the RSN and then by the Royal Joint Space Forces. These units were known as Fleet Parties and many would see early OQC duties caused by the illegal importation of goods from Tirane and beyond.
As British colonial exploration and RSN deployments expanded so did the need for Fleet Parties. In turn the Fleet Parties gave rise to the secretive Special Planetary units that undertook special operations on the frontier and in core orbital facilities. The lessons learnt from the SPS in turn led to the counter-SF Zeebrugge Groups that protect British orbital stations.
By the 2170's the Royal Marines had long lost the battle for exclusive defensive duties in Britain's colonies and instead began to concentrate on providing rapid reaction, high-value units to act as the United Kingdom's spearhead capability. 62 and 63 Commandos were retrained and reorganised with a highly decentralised, mobile and teeth-heavy structure. In addition the marines were all put through the Red Commando course, further weeding out the unsuitable soldiers in a process called 'creeping excellence'. From that moment on the commandos would most often be found on the frontiers of the French Arm.
In the early 2210's a brigade HQ, 6 Commando Brigade, was formed to co-ordinate the actions of the Commandos and add in specialist forces such as engineers, signals, fire support and finally sufficient logistics back-up to run the units properly. In 2234 a third Commando, No 69, was formed for service on the Chinese Arm where the first flushes of piracy were starting to harass UK registered shipping in the area. The although formally a part of 6 Cdo Bde it (69 then the other Cdo's in rotation) rarely worked under its operational command, more often working alongside the Canadian Special Service Force's Colonial Commando.
The second half of the 23rd Century saw two trends, the increasing size of warship troop complements and the development of genuine planetary assault techniques. The first saw the overall increase in size of the Red RM as they generated more and larger Fleet Parties. The second saw 6 Commando Brigade begin to work on the creation of assault spearhead and large scale raiding techniques that would see the eventual creation of dedicated Assault Ships by the RSN.
The Kafer War would see 6 Commando Brigade in the front line of British resitance to the Kafer Invasion, a role where they would resort to piecemeal raiding in the face of the alien juggernaught. As humanity re-grouped and counter-attacked the Red Commandos would find themselves in the vanguard, but their light equipment scales and heavy casualties saw them restricted to more specialist raiding and pathfinding roles than they had trained for pre-war. Nonetheless the Red Commandos stand bloodied but unbowed.
There is no direct recruitment into the ranks of the Red Royal Marines. A prospective Red must first be able to gain entrance into the ranks of the Black or maritime Royal Marines Commandos who make up the bulk of the Corps. This in itself is no mean feat. The basic selection standards are very high and much more stringent than those required of a regular British Army infanteer. The Royal Marines do not allow recruitment of individuals with the Tertiary Education Deferment certificate, general fitness and health standards are also higher.
Once accepted as a recruit a nine month training course in the South West of England awaits before the Marine can don the renowned Green Beret (the inspiration for all other nations Green Berets) and wear the black and red dagger badge of the Royal Marine Commando. It is then typical to serve in one of the regular Commandos (a battalion sized unit) that compose the 1st Commando Division, for a period of around three years. It should be noted however that some exceptional recruits can apply for the Red course straight away.
Selection for the Red course is dependent on again passing a battery of tests. These tests are not physical, as a fully trained Commando the applicant is assumed to possess the required physical fitness. Instead the tests are aimed at assessing the candidates physiology, psychological and intellectual abilities. Obvious failings include claustrophobia and the inability to cope with zero gravity conditions. The test board also looks for the candidates coolness under pressure and ability to cope with the intellectual demands of the challenging job. Only a small proportion of an already high standard of candidate are accepted, the baseline standard of recruit into the Reds compares favourably with officers and air crew in other parts of the British armed forces.
Training in the 'Red Commando Course, more properly the Space Operations and Hostile Environments Cadre, is a process that lasts one year from start to finish. It is based at the UK military facility on Luna but parts of the course are also conducted on Clarke and Wellington Stations and Wellsland on Mars. The first elements of the course are dedicated to mastering the safety demands of operating on stations and ships. This is a vital preliminary which claims a certain number of RTE (Return To Earth) requests on the part of candidates who find themselves unable to deal with the reality of space operation in spite of the selection process. These lessons are constantly tested throughout the course.
Once this has been successfully mastered, the low-G combat part of the course takes place on Luna. Here the Commandos learn to adapt their normal fighting techniques to these unique circumstances, also included are clearance drills performed in the ruined Patrick Moore Base CQB range. The course then moves onto Wellington Station where instruction is received covering on-station operations by a team including Zeebrugge Group specialists. An operational phase is then included on Clarke Station to put some of these lessons into practise, which takes the course up to the six month point when an Earth leave is gained. Basic zero-G manoeuvring is also introduced in this stage.
Those who are qualified free-fall parachutists have a slightly longer leave than those others who must undertake an accelerated course on Earth to prepare them for the orbital drop phase. This training lasts a month and ranges from very high altitude drops from space planes and landers to ballistic drop capsule training. The latter includes mostly simulator work but also three live drops from a frigate onto Drop Zones in the Canadian Prairies as part of raiding exercises. Techniques include HADHO (High Altitude Deployment, High Opening), HADLO (High Altitude Deployment, Low Opening) and LADLO (Low Altitude Deployment, Low Opening) methods of operation, although only the more common (and safer) LADLO is practised live.
After drop training the course then progresses to advanced zero-G and ship board operations training. This lasts three and a half months and is conducted on-board Wellington Station and ships of various sizes from the Home Fleet. This part of the course is seen as make or break for the candidates. If they fail to master the intricacies of ship board life, of combat both on-board and on the hull and elementary damage control skills then they will be RTE'd as an unacceptable risk. (It should be noted however that being RTE'd from the Red course does not carry the same stigma as failure on some other courses.) Another element tested is the ability to conduct boarding operations, these are usually conducted as part of routine OQC duties have been undertaken in much more testing conditions on the frontier against pirates, hijackers or the alien Kafers by front-line units.
The last month before the final exercise is taken up with training on Clarke Station and Luna. As members of a Fleet Party deployed on a RSN warship the marines could be expected to perform close protection duties for the ship's Captain in the course of his duties. Consequently the course includes a short 10 day course on basic bodyguarding skills and drills, specialising in on-station operations. This is, of course, just an introduction to this subject and by no means produces expert BGs in this time. The course then returns to Luna for refresher training in CQB, heavy weapons and low-G operations.
The final exercise for the course takes place in Wellsland, the British concession on Mars. The exercise commences onboard a RSN frigate which inserts the course, initially as a team guarding a mediation mission. Later the scenario escalates and the team must cover an emergency extraction, they are then reinserted in a series of reconnaissance and raiding taskings including a week long surveillance of an enemy base and an orbital drop assault on the same. The exercise is designed to test most of the skills required of a Red, and by this stage there are few drop-outs and most who reach the final exercise phase pass the course and move on to an operational unit.
Continuation training is of vital importance to the Red Commandos. The Red Commando Course only provides the basics to allow the marine to operate effectively. Training in Team Specialities is done both 'in house' and on residential courses run by brigade cadres. Other training is also stressed with weapons and insertion techniques being of great importance.
'Well no I'm actually a commando and I'm also a Royal Marine. I serve in 62 Commando and am a member of the Royal Marines Commandos. Also I'm qualified as both a Black Commando and a Red Commando as well as having passed the French TIS Commando training course No, I'm not special forces Look, just call me a Red Commando. It's easier.'
Corporal G D 'Apple'
Adams, C Coy, 63 Commando
Red Commandos are present in a variety of units, the most high profile being 6 Commando Brigade. However several other formations are either entirely or predominantly composed of Reds. In addition the Corps tries to rotate Reds back into Black Commando units as often as possible in part to 'cross pollinate' and avoid the Reds becoming too insular, but also to avoid allegations of elitism and exclusivity.
The Reds are administratively under the command of the HQ Royal Marines, but instead answer in practice to the Royal Joint Space Force Staff.
There are three Royal Marine Commandos that are classed as 'Red', these are 62, 63 and 69 Commandos, usually referred to in conversation as Six-Two, Six-Three and Six-Nine. These are the front-line Commandos that compose the troubleshooting 6 Commando Brigade. Each Commando is a small, highly trained, light infantry battalion including around 420 personnel. It has five rifle companies (A, B, C, X and Z), a fire support company and a HQ Company.
Each rifle company is composed of three rifle troops and a five man HQ and is the basic operational unit. The rifle troop has only twenty Marines in its ranks, arranged in four, four man units known as Teams and led by either a Corporal or Lance Corporal. The Troop HQ also has four soldiers and includes a Lieutenant, Sergeant, a comms specialist and another marine. With a meagre 65 troops a Red RM company is only half the size of a comparable British Army company. However it is a very agile, quick reacting formation which shares some of the same characteristics of special forces units. Great care must be taken to avoid committing these units as conventional infantry against heavily armoured enemy forces.
Each troops teams are specialised formations, each one concentrating on recce, demolitions, communications or medical skills. This specialisation produces strength in depth and self-reliance at the troop level, with each troop capable of sophisticated independent taskings of considerable duration. These skills are in addition to the standard capabilities possessed by every Commando as a result of the Black Commando course.
Support Company has two heavy weapons troops, these are also multi-skilled formations with a variety of weapons. Indirect Fire Troop normally consists of six mortar teams, five MFC and a small command team for a total of 40 marines. Guided Weapons Troop has eight Green Hunter firing posts, two SAM posts, a small command team and 22 Marines. In spite of the unit's titles and standard weaponry all are trained in a variety of direct fire weapon systems including plasma weaponry, machine guns and grenade launchers which can be substituted for the standard issue weaponry.
HQ Company includes two tactical HQ groups of four personnel each, a Fleet Tactical Surgical Team and a Logistics Support Troop.
The Commandos can operate on land, in stations or dispersed onboard warships.
'Those women are like a plague of f****** locusts. Arrest the next 10 you see anywhere near this or any other depot and lets see if that has any effect on them.'
Messervy-Hayes late RGR, Commander 7 Armoured Brigade
There are a number of non-Royal Marine units within 6 Commando Brigade, these are recruited primarily from the Army and RJSF, but occasionally RN and RAF personnel can also be found in these units. Almost all have either done the full, or short (5 month) All Arms SOHEC Course.
6 Commando Fire Support Group is a highly specialised formation recruited from the Royal Artillery, RN and RJSF, It is the role of these men and women to call in fire support from any available asset to support the vital early stages of a landing. This ranges from artillery fire to air support, naval gunfire to space carrier fighter strikes up to kinetic and nuclear orbital attacks. Small units from 6 Cdo FSG are often deployed with special forces and pathfinders in order to engage specific point targets.
The Royal Engineers have two units supporting the brigade. 65 Independent Commando Squadron and 66 Commando Landing Squadron. 65 Cdo Sqn is a highly trained combat engineering formation which is responsible for all close engineering support to the Commandos. It also provides training to the Demolitions Teams of the Rifle Troops in addition to being very capable in the infantry role. Within the Royal Engineers service in 65 Cdo Sqn is extremely prestigious. 66 Cdo Sqn's role is slightly less glamorous, its primary tasking is the securing and construction of planethead landing facilities for assault or reinforcement operations. Without these facilities the landing of heavy landers is impossible and any assault will fail. In addition the unit can act as a conventional construction squadron and is responsible for the high quality of billets the brigade usually resides in.
67 Commando Communications Squadron is a fairly recently formed unit and is composed of Royal Signals, Royal Electronic Warfare and Security and RSN personnel. Whilst the front-line Commandos all have good communications capabilities the squadron is available to set up and man long range links from the surface which sometimes have to bypass orbital satellites which may not be available. In addition the unit can provide links for widely dispersed operations. A less publicised capability is the tactical EW, ELINT and SIGINT support it can provide to the brigade commander or other units.
4 Commando Logistics Regiment (4 CLR) is composed of RM, RLC and RSC personnel and is responsible for keeping the often widely dispersed brigade in operation. It has recently been reinforced by the specialist 1 Assault Support Company, RSC allowing it to concentrate on its primary combat service support function. Although not a glamorous unit 4 CLR is vital for the successful running of the brigade and its key watch word is flexibility. The troopers of 4 CLR are renowned for their ability to keep the brigade running by hook or by crook, usually by crook. The regiment consists of three small Commando Support Squadrons and one Fleet Support Squadron.
The RJSF's Royal Space Corps provides 1 Assault Support Company to the brigade. This formation is not Commando trained, although RSC basic training includes some similar elements and the unit can operate effectively in hostile environments. The Company is designed to supplement 66 Commando and 4 CLR by operating as the surface-orbit logistics interface and movement control element on high intensity operations.
Troop complements on board the ships of the Royal Space Navy are known as Fleet Parties. RM volunteering for service with the fleet must be 'Red Commando' qualified. Most FP Rates (as these individuals are referred to) are marines with experience in 6 Commando Brigade, whilst some have served with the Zeebrugge Group or Pathfinders or even SPS.
Fleet Parties are referred to by a four figure number, the first figure of which refers to the category of vessel and the last three to the actual vessel within that class. The vessel category numbers are 1 for capital ships, 2 for cruisers, 3 for destroyer and 4 for frigates. Thus FP1003 is the detachment on board the HMS Prince of Wales, FP 3013 is found on board the HMS Audacious and so on. However most are commonly referred to by the name of their ships.
The normal size for a Fleet Party on most of Her Majesties Ships is a 20 man group, led either by a Lieutenant or a Colour Sergeant. It is composed of four, four man tactical (tac) teams (each led by a corporal or lance corporal) and a command team of four men, including the commander, a Sergeant, a Comms specialist and a dedicated breaching specialist. On the capital ships (excepting the Ark Royal) the FP is of company group size of 64 men (although 100+ can be carried), however normally only two of these larger parties are formed and deployed on ships operating outside the Sol system.
During the Kafer War Fleet Parties have seen action in a raiding capacity, they have also been used as a replacement pool for other Red Commando units including forward deployed SPS units.
'We were pressing on with the advance and mopping up following the 2nd Battle of Uethan. The battle group was enjoying itself against the un-armoured Capu troops, our morale was boosted by the news of landings on New Africa and the close orbital support from the Fleet. Our target was the supply dump on the banks of the River Guéna. We reached it after some minor skirmishing but found it already being ransacked by some suspiciously furtive British Marines whose presence we had not been warned about. After a vocal disagreement with their commander we satisfied ourselves with some light looting before heading off to battle again.'
Commander of the Régiment de Marche de Spahis de
There are several units that have specialised roles at a tactical and strategic level which rely upon the Red RM to provide a bulk of their manpower. The Reds have a very high proportion of personnel serving on special duties due to the high standard of their recruits and training.
The Zeebrugge Group is responsible for the protection of British orbital installations and strategically important space stations from infiltration and espionage activities. It ties in close combat skills with surveillance and intelligence gathering activities. Whilst limited in numerical terms that fact it operates on home territory give it numerous advantages. Should a Zeebrugge Group Detachment and Station Police not be able to deal with a problem nearby Fleet Parties or Stand-By Commando can be drafted in. The Zeebrugge Group Gateway Detachment provides the bulk of the British troop commitment to OQC operations.
Answering directly to the Commander of the Assault Landing Group, COMASLAN, these troops are trained to recce, select, mark and secure landing zones for the rest of the ASLAN. A company sized body composed primarily of Red RM and some Red trained Army personnel it has acquired numerous Bowman-D combat walkers in addition to heavily armed Hover Rover 500 vehicles. The ASLAN Pathfinders can, and have on operations, liaise either with special forces or local resistance movements in the course of their operations and insertion is normally by small ships in advance of the main wave.
30 Assault Unit, sometimes referred to as 30 Commando, is a special formation about which little is known. Apparently it answers directly to the highest levels of the Commonwealth Expeditionary Force HQ on the French Arm but has clearance through RSN Intelligence to the Joint Intelligence Committee and the British Prime Minister. Formed prior to the Invasion its remit apparently involves strategic raiding of Kafer facilities and there are numerous reports of 30 AU callsigns appearing behind enemy lines in advance of conventional units. Rumours say the unit has a large proportion of Red RM Commandos in its ranks but that a wide and eclectic range of personnel from the UK, Commonwealth and beyond also serve with it.
The SPS are the RJSF's own strategic special forces organisation drawn from the Reds. They operate very covertly, often using Fleet Party or Special Air Service activities as cover. The only direct reference to the activities of the SPS so far in the Kafer War confirmed by the government is that No. 2 Section has provided marines for the famed Three Blind Mice operations.
'No trace of the company could be found in spite of strenuous efforts by this unit. Data we have from Rochemont's Fleet's Ops staff, 62 Cdo HQ and Zulu Coy's own operational planning has been checked and correlated on the ground. Local personal and potential witnesses have been questioned, interrogated and sometimes simply bribed. It seems Major Owens and his Marines have vanished into thin air. Perhaps a team from FSIU or RSNIS can reach deeper into this mystery?'
Extract from private diary of Captain Mieville RM, Int Officer 63 Commando, BCB
In the pre-War era the Red RM Commandos were deployed primarily in three main locations. Depot and training facilities were found in the Sol Station, Red Royal Marine Reserves were also predominantly located here although were rarely called out and exercised as most were employed at various orbital facilities.
The main force of 6 Commando Brigade with two commandos was located at Beta Canum, however the actual deployments of the individual commandos varied widely. One Commando was usually retained at Beta Canum as the French Arm Spearhead Commando whilst the other became the Reserve Commando. In the 2290's the Reserve Commando was usually stationed at Queen Alice's Star.
One Commando was permanently on standby for duty in the Chinese Arm, although stationed officially both at Doris and DeVillebis the individual companies were often dispersed across the Chinese Arm embarked on-board ship. As noted before the Chinese Arm Spearhead Commando has a close working relationship with the Canadian military, elements of it could also be found occasionally exercising in the American Arm with US or Australian forces. Thanks to piracy and the fragmented political nature of the Arm duty with this Commando was rarely without incident.
The Kafer War saw a rapid re-jig of the Red Commandos. Thanks to the Canadian government's decision to take up the slack by increasing its commitment in the Chinese Arm, 63 Commando was released from its duties in late 2300 to join the rest of the brigade on the French Arm.
62 and 69 Commando were already present on the French Arm, Z Company of 62 Cdo had served on secondment to the French MSIF in the Eta Bootis system in 2300 and seen some action. Although the first full British battalion to serve on Aurore was drawn from the Parachute Regiment, much to the disgust of the RM. Another company of 62 Cdo (B Coy) was chosen to embark with Commodore Connor's Expeditionary Squadron tasked to join the Fleet at Aurore. Whilst the remainder of 6 Cdo Bde was massed at Beta Canum and undertook assault training.
The destruction of Hochbaden and subsequent attack on Dunkelheim threw the Bde into a maelstrom of planning and rehearsals. Initial ideas were to aid a German counter-attack or to reinforce the French forces at BCV and Vogelheim which were already gathering a substantial force of French and American marines and could counter-attack at Hochbaden or relieve Aurore. In the event the mooted German counter-attack didn't happen, the Kafers were too strong to consider it. Instead 62 Commando was divided for independent operations, with the HQ, Support and 2 rifle companies (A & Z) being attached to Rochemont's Fleet. The other two companies were given independent roles at BCV.
The remainder of the brigade, along with their rivals in 6 Airborne Brigade were transferred to the QAS system in August where a strong British squadron, later reinforced to become the multi-national Reserve Fleet, was building up. British troop reinforcements from Earth were expected, as were German ground forces slated for a return to Dunkelheim. The brigade would spend a frustrating time for the next few months with only rare forays being made into the main war zone.
In the meantime near disaster had stuck 62 Cdo. Half of B Coy was lost at the 2nd Battle of BCB with the destruction of HMS Defiance, although rumours persist that some were taken as prisoners from the hulk. The remains of the company would distinguish itself alongside German Marines operating with Campbell's Squadron from Grosshiddenhafen. Z Coy was dropped on BCB weeks later in a special forces role by the privateer Rillfisher as part of an effort to set-up resistance networks should the Kafers try to land ground troops, they were never heard from again. A Coy had more luck conducting several operations with Rochemont's Fleet, including a lighting raid on Dunkelheim, and in 'Liberation' operations in the Beta Canum Cluster.
The remainder of 62 Commando was based at BCV. X Coy found itself on the Beanstalk Station when it was cut away on the 7 February, and was involved in the effort to restore order and evacuate civilians. They were eventually taken off by the German squadron with whom they remained when that unit evacuated the system and fought with them at 61 Ursae Majoris before being reunited with what remained of 62 Cdo with Rochemont's Fleet. C Coy was on the surface of BCV throughout the Invasion and Occupation and was used widely as raiders and recce troops.
In the meantime 6 Cdo Bde were kicking their heels at QAS. They were only minimally involved in Operation ENTENTE, seeing service only as dispersed ships troops. (However it is believed that elements of the SPS as well as an entire squadron of 24 SAS were deployed onto Kimanjano to set up resistance networks alongside other Allied special forces.) In addition they found that their pre-war spearhead assault role had been usurped by the paratroopers of the re-roled 6 Brigade due to that unit's heavier firepower.
The Battle of Beowulf was a climactic time for the Red Commandos as the whole brigade were dispersed around the RSN elements of the Reserve Fleet reinforcing the various Fleet Parties, many of which were composed predominantly of Red qualified members of the RM Reserve. Hundreds of commandos died during the battle as their ships were engaged, battered and sometimes destroyed, however they provided a vital resource in bolstering the damage control parties of these vessels. In the hours following the battle they were then used in dozens of boarding operations that occurred, securing crippled Kafer ships.
Beowulf cost the Royal Marines over four hundred killed and nearly the same number wounded. To bring 63 and 69 Commando back up to strength support units in the brigade were combed for suitable replacements and Fleet Parties from badly damaged ships were disbanded. The arrival of the Royal Alician Marines' 1 Commando, and a number of Red Commando replacements, from training on Earth was a much needed boost for the brigade.
With the renamed 6 Assault Brigade packed onto the assault ships of the ASLAN Group, 6 Cdo Brigade was instead loaded onto the RSN capital ships when the remnants of the Reserve Fleet chased the Kafers to Kimanjano where they managed to break up the survivors. The Liberation of Kimanjano was a French responsibility but two companies drawn from 63 and 69 Cdo were transferred to the Bombardment Group and prepared for preliminary raids as the Liberation force massed. In the event A Coy of 63 Commando based on HMS Ramage was called upon to raid a Kafer mobile ASAT battery on D-1, being inserted by LADLO drop and extracted by 1205 NIS Ravens. The raid was a complete success, taking the battery by surprise and destroying it completely and the alien QRF took casualties from stay behind ordnance. Five RM were killed in action.
Three days into the Liberation of Kimanjano it was finally certain that the Landing Zones were secure and the Armée de Libération would be able to deploy successfully. At this point the Anglo-Franco-German force that had been held in reserve was freed to insure the Liberation of BCV, on which heavy fighting was still continuing despite Admiral Rochemont's declarations that the world was secure. ASLAN Pathfinders and elements of special forces had already deployed on world and were linked in with surviving human units and commanders. However COMASLAN went ahead with a conventional operation delivering troops to LZ's in New Africa, far from any potential threat. Most elements of 6 Cdo Bde conducted drops onto positions in an outer perimeter but were soon withdrawn as more conventional forces landed in increasing strength. They spent the next two weeks as a fire brigade force rushing around to where opponents were to be found.
The brigade was then split with 63 Commando replacing the battered and played out 62 Commando operating with Rochemont's Fleet. 1 Cdo RAM was placed on call with Graham's Fleet whilst 69 Commando was assigned to Rear Admiral Bell's Squadron operating on the 61 Ursae Majoris finger. 62 Commando moved to Beowulf to recuperate.
69 Commando undertook a range of operations in the Henry's Star system, including numerous boarding actions, ground combat on the Dayside before relieved by 6 Assault Brigade and the near disastrous boarding of the OMC 'Henry Kaiser'. A composite company was then involved in some operations in the 61 Ursae Majoris and Xi Ursae Majoris systems before being withdrawn. 63 Cdo was far less harshly used, being involved in relief operations at BCB but was unable to find any trace of the long lost Z Coy from 62 Cdo. 63 Cdo was also part of the British contingent in Operation Overlord, with two companies launching raids on outlying Kafer defence installations. These were successful but at a much heavier cost than the raid undertaken on Kimanjano.
In the immediate aftermath of the war 6 Commando Brigade is massed at QAS while it attempts to regenerate the combat losses which have nearly crippled it. The main difficulty has been the provision of suitably trained replacements, a task which has drained the Commando Division and taxed the Red Commando Course. The need for casualty replacements has meant a reduction in the length of the course and a perceived drop in the standard of replacements. In any event the Paratroopers of 6 Assault Brigade have returned to strength much more quickly than their more highly trained counterparts.
The Red Commandos are armed and equipped with a variety of systems. Most of these are standard Royal Marines/British Army issue systems, however they also have task specific weapons and systems.
Quantum Industries 'Sabre' Laser Weapon System - L90A1
This is the standard zero-G and ship board assault weapon system used by 6 Cdo Bde. It combines a high power laser weapon with a multi-mode grenade launcher that can fire either conventional 30mm grenades or recoilless zero-G grenades. The weapon came into service in 2292 replacing the Rockwell L272 'Starlight' which had proved to lack robustness for its role. Although intended for on-ship or station usage the Sabre is popular with its users and has been utilised on-world on many occasions. The high levels of accuracy of the weapon has frequently proved useful.
The Sabre comes complete with the usual array of weapon sights and internal systems and integrates well with the TISS-4E used by the Red RM. The Sabre has proved reliable for the most part although the fairly complicated grenade launcher has sometimes had feed problems. The weapon can be fed from an integral FDLMS magazine or one from a larger external battery carried in a backpack.
Type: 70.01 Laser Rifle with 30mm GL
Mk.4 Space Battle Armour
The Mk.4 SBA is a combination of vacuum suit, rigid armour and electronics systems. The SBA is used for ship-board and several on-station activities. This suit allows the Red RM to act with total confidence in any environment. It has optional low power assist on the lower limbs and elbows to aid in the movement of limbs in a vacuum. The suit is usually worn with a combination movement pack, air and power reserve rigid backpack. Whilst a version of the standard issue CIPES Assault Vest is worn over the top.
The system has in-built TISS-4E and a 32mj FDLMS reserve battery holding 40 pulses for the Sabre L90 LWS. The suit's main downfall is its weight, which requires a very fit soldier to wear and fight it when under gravity. SBA is usually a dark matt green colour and the only flash of colour is usually a small Red Commando dagger badge on the upper chest. The helmet is equipped with wide angle HUD whilst the visor can be worn either locked down, or half open to allow better airflow.
Yuri spat the bitter, warm chunk of blood and meat onto the floor and rolled the still shuddering body over so he could breathe. The circle of Crapauds were hooting and hammering the ground in appreciation, one playfully cuffed Frank, knocking the weakened man down. This wasn't how it was supposed to be, he was a high tech infanteer trained to kill with half a dozen weapons systems, and here he was biting the throat out of some stinking alien to get enough food to survive on.
Lt Col Leigh Corwin, RM , DSO
Colonel Corwin is the CO of 62 Cdo, a post he has held since the summer of 2301. He has guided 62, or at least the parts of it under his direct command, through the worst of the fighting of the Invasion. In that time he has seen it reduced to a shadow of its former self, mustering at Beowulf with only 25% of its pre-war complement. He has now set his heart on re-building his much decorated but devastated unit, but fears he will be replaced before he can finish the job.
Leigh Corwin was born in the prosperous valleys of South Wales, but emigrated with his family to Wellon before he was six. He was brought up in the teaming city of Point Sterling, but was educated in a boarding school on the Livingston Peninsular. A fiercely intelligent and articulate child Corwin seemed to excel at almost any task put to him. Partly under the influence of an uncle serving in the Royal Marines he gained an early interest in the military. Later he would study military history at King's College, University of Cameron, whilst serving with U Company, 4th Bn, New Scots Rifles.
On graduation he travelled to Earth to attend Admiralty Interview Board where he was successful and began his training as a RM Potential Officer. Corwin rose quickly, gaining better than average reports in every post he took on and becoming a well liked and respected officer. After 5 years in the 1st Cdo Div he transferred to the Reds and after several company, Commando and brigade postings he finally became CO of 62. His reputation within the commando was one of a humane and forward thinking officer.
However the events of the war meant that many of his man were far from his command when they fought and often died. He and his small staff became a part of Rochemont's special operations planning staff where they did much good work, but only in the spring of 2302 did he get to lead his men in combat. However his greatest worry remains the fate of his Z Coy deployed to BCB. He still feels that he agreed to send them on a mission that they lacked the training for. His attempts to get to the bottom of the disappearance of the company has begun to worry several key officers in the brigade who worry he is loosing his edge.
Major (Brevet) Alan Shepherd, DSO,
MC and Bar
Alan Shepherd is an aggressive, ambitious and fast rising officer in 6 Cdo Bde. He gets results, sometimes at the price of his men's lives, however his methods saved many men on the Henry Kaiser consequently they now follow him without demure.
Shepherd was born in the Home Counties of England to a family with a long history of service in the Brigade of Guards. The young Shepherd was interested in a military career but had little use for the stuffiness displayed by his family and cut himself off from them at an early age. He attended University in Newcastle and started training with the local Royal Marine Reserve unit, where he qualified as a Black Commando in his first year. His academic studies often suffered with the commitment he put into his military career but managed to scrape through to graduate.
He'd already been accepted for officer training with the RM before his graduation and already as an experienced RMR Lance Corporal he flew through training and was easily the best cadet in his intake. He was one of the very few allowed to apply directly for Red RM training. In his service as a rifle troop commander he was admired for his results but often disliked for his methods. He then served on the Chinese Arm with a Fleet Party on the Indefatigable enjoying the independent command and was involved in the Bristol Rover hijacking incident.
He then volunteered for SPS Induction but was rejected on the recommendation of one member of the board. Furious at this perceived slight he instead served for a term with the ASLAN Pathfinders, taking part in the PURPLE LION exercises. There he reinforced his reputation for ruthlessness and icy temper but brought his troop up to very high standards. He was then transferred as the 2 i/c of A Coy 63 Cdo, a position he held when the invasion occurred although he was due to attend Staff College. During the Battle of Beowulf his OC was killed during a boarding action on a Kafer battleship and he took over the running of the company. Only weeks later he led A Coy's very successful raid on the ASAT Battery on Kimanjano, an officer who was something of an embarrassment in peacetime became a valuable asset in war, and was awarded the Military Cross.
Shepherd remained with his company briefly until being promoted to acting Major and being transferred to lead X Coy of 69 Cdo in operations at Henry's Star. His new marines were very wary of both him and his reputation at first and relations within the company suffered badly. However in the boarding of the Henry Kaiser his was one of the few companies to achieve its objectives and then went on to regroup and control several other assault teams. Through his personal example, ruthlessness and inspired tactics he helped to save the mission from failing entirely after the Cdo's leadership was wiped out. He has now been twice decorated for his actions on the OMC, and has become a totem to the remnants of the company.
Sergeant Yuri Denning, RM
Sergeant Denning was the troop sergeant of 5 Troop which was shoe-horned into the belly of the Defiance during the Battle of BCB. He, along with several other marines and crewmen, survived the destruction of the ship to be taken prisoner.
Denning was born in Plymouth to one of the sprawling Southwest-Russian families that provide many members of the Corps. A quiet youth he grew quickly and was a talented rugby player who played at semi-pro levels before he decided to follow family traditions and join the Royal Marines. Intelligent but not academically gifted he followed the RM Reserves route whilst attending Polytechnic in Bristol in order to gain enough qualifications to be accepted by the Corps. The Commando Course caused him little difficulty and he was noticed early as a team player, one who would sacrifice his own results to get his team mates through.
His career in the corps was relatively unremarkable, serving for nearly seven years in Black units before transferring to the Reds. He was quickly tracked into support weapons and was served in Anti-Tanks and Mortars before qualifying as a PW1 and transferring to the Reds. He served as a Section Commander in 6 Troop before being shifted up to 5 Troop on proving himself.
It was with this unit that disaster struck. The Defiance was eviscerated and half of the marines died with it. Denning and the surviving ship's officers set about trying to rescue as many survivors and possible, many were badly wounded. When the Kafers eventually returned to board the hulk the survivors surrendered in an attempt to gain aid for the survivors. RSN and RM personnel were separated and Denning found himself in charge of eight survivors, a number that has dwindled to six. The PoW's spent months on a transport before being dropped off at an anonymous covert base. Denning has twice fought, and won, against Kafers to get better treatment for his men however he has been hamstrung and blinded in one eye by casual Kafer brutality. His hold on sanity is tenuous and held only by his desire to save what remains of his men.
Copyright 2009, D Hebditch