British Army specialist commandos brought a rain of fire down upon ‘enemy positions’ during Exercise Fleet Battle Problem, an experimental exercise with the US Marines, Royal Navy and Royal Marines designed to shape future operations.
Army commandos, from 148 Commando Forward Observation Battery (148 Battery), guided the guns of the Royal Navy, 105mm Light Guns of 29 Commando Royal Artillery, Attack Helicopters, Close Air Support, and the United States Marine Corps High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), with pinpoint precision.
148 Battery are experts in covert insertion, patrols behind enemy lines, concealment, encrypted communications, and battle damage assessment. They are the UK defence and NATO Subject Matter Experts on Naval Gunfire Support, qualified in calling artillery, precision guided munitions, high altitude parachute insertion, boating, and Close Air Support.
During the exercise in Western Scotland, the 148 Battery’s elite reconnaissance strike teams infiltrated deep behind ‘hostile lines’ to call in precision guided rockets to defeat ‘enemy’ Air Defence.
These small reconnaissance teams were able to call in fire and extract more effectively through exploiting new kit, such as small raiding boats, and exploring new ways of working to identify enemy targets. The team used a digital network to communicate quickly and pave the way for allied air, ground, and naval forces to move in and control the area.
This digital network allowed 148 Battery to provide valuable information using enhanced MPU5 radios – rugged yet lightweight devices which feed crucial data back to commanders, whilst reducing the amount of kit usually carried by soldiers by around 15kg (the weight of a typical microwave).
The exercise helped the teams from 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery prove the tactics for their role as part of Future Commando Force modernisation.
Lieutenant Colonel Dave Glendenning RA, Commanding Officer of 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery and the Principal Fires Officer within 3 Commando Brigade said: “148 Battery played a huge role in the exercise, and it was a seminal moment in their lifespan with the opportunity to wrestle with the wicked problem of increasing the endurance, duration, range, mobility, connectivity and lethality of their patrols.”
Among the impressive firepower and tech at the disposal of the observers were the USMC Osprey tiltrotors, drones, mobile rocket systems and the deep reconnaissance teams from the US Marine Corps Force Recon.
Lieutenant Colonel Glendenning added: “Fleet Battle Problem examined the complex issue of winning the fight to get to the fight, whereby deliberate tactical action can defeat the strategy of an adversary.”
“The exercises reinforced the demand for investment in digital fires software, tactical communication systems and complex amphibious training opportunities to deliver credible political choice in the early years of the Future Commando Force programme.”
148 Battery are one of five specialised battery's in 29 Commando Royal Artillery, the Gunners of 3 Commando Brigade.