2000 Royal Marines along with two specialist ships could be cut from the forces as per the proposal of the National Security Capability Review which has been carried out in secrecy without taking sufficient input from the experts. The decision has been outrightly termed as ‘militarily illiterate’ and at complete odds with the realities of strategic terms.
There have been cuts to the Royal Marines since 2010 which have shrunk in numbers from 7020 troops to merely 6580. In addition, many exercises have been cancelled which has pushed the morale of the forces to a new low. The newly proposed cuts will bring down the Brigade of Marines to below the critical mass required for basic readiness and conduction of standing tasks.
Royal Marines are the route of elite troops to enter Special forces i.e. the Special Boat Service in particular. Thus, this cut down will also significantly impact the available recruitment pool and thereby affect the amphibious warfare expertise of the special forces.
The proposal also seeks to scrap two amphibious assault ships HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark. Such an action will cripple the forces to launch an amphibious landing. As per the Commons Defence Committee Report, there are no other ships which are suggested as possible replacements of the specialist carriers.
Royal Marines comprise UK’s amphibious light infantry force which forms a formidable part of naval service along with Royal Navy. They are highly trained for rapid deployment and thus coping with a wide range of threats. Their origin is traced back to 1664 when the Duke of York and Albany’s maritime regiment was formed at the grounds of the Honourable Artillery Company. It has been in action alongside British Army in many wars- the Seven Years’ War, the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War, WWI and WWII etc.