Category Archives: Commandos

Yomping

From the first shots to the last, the Royal Marines were involved in ground combat in the Falklands in 1982.

To open the conflict, it was the platoon-sized Naval Party 8901 that fired 6,450 rounds of 7.62 (along with five 84mm and seven 66mm rockets) in defense of the initial Argentine landings on 2 April, suffering three casualties. One section of RMs, led by Corporal York was even able to displace and hide out in the sparse countryside for three days.

Providing the muscle for most of 3 Commando Brigade in Operation Corporate, the RMs sent all three Commando battalions at the time (40, 42, and 45) along with most of the crack SBS frogmen and even the Mountain and Arctic Warfare training school cadre down to liberate the islands. The men of NP 8901, repatriated by the Argentines, clocked back in to get some payback, forming J Company of 42 Commando.

Royal Marines lined up for weapons check-in the hanger of HMS Hermes in the South Atlantic on their way to the Falklands in 1982

A Westland “Junglee” conducting fast rope training with RM Commandos on the way to the Falklands. It was an 8,000 mile trip from the UK to the “front”

The first ground combat of the liberation came with the recapture on 26 April of the windswept island of South Georgia in Operation Paraquet, conducted by 42 Commando and assorted SAS/SBS operators. 

Members of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines hoisting the Union Jack and White Ensign over Grytviken, capital of South Georgia, April 1982. Before the Falkland Islands could be recaptured the island of South Georgia had to be taken. On 26 April 1982, after a short naval bombardment, a force of Royal Marines, Special Air Service (SAS) and Special Boat Service (SBS) went ashore and the Argentine garrison surrendered. NAM. 1988-09-13-22

Then came the landings on East Falkland, kicking off the 25-day land campaign to liberate the island, ending with the Argentine surrender of Port Stanley. 

THE FALKLANDS CONFLICT, APRIL – JUNE 1982 (FKD 178) A Royal Marine of 3 Commando Brigade helps another to apply camouflage face paint in preparation for the San Carlos landings on 21 May 1982. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205124181

40 Commando Royal Marines. Note the L1A1 Sterling sub machine guns .Falklands 1982

Royal Marine Snipers and a GPMG Gunner prior to the Assault on Mount Kent. Falkland’s War, May 1982. Note the L42 sniper rifle and early starlight scope

British Royal Marine armed with a Lee Enfield L42a1 during the 1982 Falklands war. AN PVS starlight scope sniper

Royal Marine RSM Chapman at Teal Inlet, a member of the elite Mountain Arctic Warfare Cadre with an M16, June 1982 Falklands. The MAWC fought it out with Argentine special forces for Top Malo House

Lacking transpo, 45 Commando famously “yomped” 56 miles in three days from their beach landing at San Carlos harbor to engage the Argentines, carrying everything they had on their backs.

“They faced bleak conditions – horrendous boggy terrain, wind, rain, sleet, low temperatures – not to mention a series of battles on hills outside the islands’ capital Stanley before reaching their objective,” notes the RN. “The Plymouth [based] unit then skilfully ousted Argentine defenders from the slopes of Mount Harriet in one of the final set-piece actions of the war before marching down into Stanley after the surrender.”

A column of 45 Royal Marine Commandos yomp towards Port Stanley. Royal Marine Peter Robinson, carrying the Union Jack flag on his backpack as identification, brings up the rear. This photograph, taken in black and white and color, became one of the iconic images of the Falklands Conflict. IWM FKD 2028

Retracing the Yomp in 2012: 

42 Cdo attack Mount Harriet

14 June, Royal Marines raised the Jack at liberated Government House, some 10 weeks after they saw it come down.

June 14 1982 Royal Marines prepare to raise the Falklands flag outside Government House

Royal Marine Commandos hoisting the original Union Jack at Government House, Port Stanley, 14 June 1982 NAM. 1988-09-13-24

The RN recently had three Falklands Royal Marines veterans; Russel Craig (then a 23-year-old RM), Stephen Griffin (also 23 at the time), and Marty Wilkin (then 26) talk to current recruits about their experiences in an incredible series, below:

Besides the initial invasion opposition, an outnumbered separate platoon of RMs famously gave the Argentines a “bloody nose” at South Georgia Island (followed later by Operation Paraquet by 42 Commando), and the men of 3 Cdo fought set-piece battles for the hills outside of Stanley at Mount Kent, Mount Harriet, and Two Sisters.

Of 255 British personnel killed in the conflict, the Royal Marines lost 27; two officers 14 NCOs, and 11 Marines, in addition to about three times that many wounded. While official battle honors fell on the Royal Navy (“Falkland Islands 1982”), RAF (“South Atlantic 1982”), and the British Army (“Falkland Islands 1982” with unit honors earned for “Goose Green,” “Mount Longdon,” “Tumbledown Mountain” and “Wireless Ridge”) for the campaign, as noted by Parliament:

“In accordance with a long-standing tradition which dates back more than 150 years, the Royal Marines do not receive battle honours for any individual operation or campaign in which they have been engaged. Instead, the corps motif of the globe surrounded by laurel is the symbol of their outstanding service throughout the world.”

The beret badge of the Royal Marines. The badge of the Royal Marines is designed to commemorate the history of the Corps. The Lion and Crown denote a Royal regiment. King George III conferred this honor in 1802 “in consideration of the very meritorious services of the Marines in the late war”. The “Great Globe”, itself surrounded by laurels, was chosen by King George IV as a symbol of the Marines’ successes in every quarter of the world. The laurels are believed to honor the gallantry they displayed during the investment and capture of Belle Isle, off Lorient, in April-June 1761.

Vale, Carl Stiner

Born in Tennessee in 1936, Carl Wade Stiner graduated from Tennessee Tech and joined the Army in 1958, spending his platoon leader days with the 9th Infantry “Manchu” Regiment. Earning a beret with the 3rd Special Forces Group in 1964, he went to Vietnam in the S-3 shop of a battalion in the 4th Infantry Division in 1967 after CGSS school, picking up a Purple Heart for his trouble. By 1970, he was jumping out of planes again as battalion commander of 2/325th Infantry, with the “All Americans” of the 82nd Airborne.

Passing through Carlise Barracks and picking up his first star, he later became the 82nd’s assistant division commander, commanded JSOC as a major general from 1984-87– a time that included the Achille Lauro affair– then went back to the 82nd as divisional commander.

Running XVIII Airborne Corps and JTFS, he was the brain behind taking down the Panama Defense Force in Blue Spoon/Just Cause in 1989.

Following up on that, he pinned on a fourth star and became the second commander on USSOCOM in 1990, a job he held for three years, a time that included running all special ops during Desert Shield/Storm.

Besides his Ranger and Airborne tab along with CIB, he wore a Master Parachutist Badge and Vietnam Service Medal with four campaign stars, showing he knew how to walk the walk in addition to talking the talk.

You may best know Gen. Stiner from his Shadow Warriors: Inside the Special Forces (Commander Series) book with Tom Clancy, a great 400-page treatise on SOCOM’s first decade.

Gen. Carl Stiner, inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame in 2004 and the 82nd Airborne’s hall of fame in 2019, died in Knoxville last Thursday, at the age of 85.

He is surely off leading the way into a brave new drop zone.

Goose Green at 40

The most significant land battle fought by modern Western armies since WWII took place some 40 years ago this week, pitting some ~700 British paratroopers of 2 PARA, augmented by elements of the Royal Marines and SAS, against some 1,200 Argentines including conscripts of the 12th (12IR) and ranger-style elite troops of the 25th Infantry (25IR) Regiment with supporting forces. Although fought in 1982, other than the use of a handful of shoulder-fired guided missiles and the fleeting presence of helicopters, it was not much different from a battalion-level scrap in 1945.

In the end, it came down to little groups of men with rifles, sub guns, and, yes, even bayonets, fighting for inches and paying with blood.

At the end of the day, 2 PARA suffered so many casualties– including its commander — to meet the historical definition of being decimated while the Argentines were all either killed or captured.

Cheerful soldiers of 2 Parachute Regiment, wearing full combat gear, celebrate the surrender of Argentine forces at Goose Green. By Hudson, Ronald (Sergeant) IWM FKD 2323 http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205124336

Argentine prisoners of war pass a wrecked Pucara ground attack aircraft, Goose Green, 1982 NAM

Despite their name and unit history, 2 PARA arrived in the Falklands by ship, made a “feet wet” amphibious landing on 24 May, and walked almost the entire route from San Carlos to Port Stanly across inhospitable terrain, fighting both at Goose Green and again a fortnight later at Wireless Ridge, then walked into Stanley for the liberation on 14 June.

Their only airlift, from Darwin to the Fitzroy, was a brief one on 2 June by the sole British CH-47 (Bravo November) that made it ashore in which some 81 Paras were crammed into the chopper. A second trap crammed 75 men. 

Talk about a rough three weeks.

Landing craft sail past HMS Fearless, carrying men of 2 Para from SS Canberra to San Carlos, during the Falklands War

Heavily laden British soldiers of 11 Platoon, D Company, 2 Para wait to embark in a helicopter at Fitzroy during the Falklands Conflict. The three seen are (left to right) Private Dave Parr (who was killed shortly afterward during the assault on Wireless Ridge – having earlier been shot at Goose Green), Lance Corporal Neil Turner, and Private Terry Stears. IWM FKD 2124 http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205190560

2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment enter Port Stanley on foot, in 1982. NAM. 2004-12-35-8

Just after Goose Green, Para-qualified Lt. Col. David Chaundler was rushed from a staff position with MoD in London, boarded an RAF C-130 for Wideawake Airfield on Ascension Island, then carried another 3,300 miles for a solo parachute landing into the sea from 1,500, feet into the South Atlantic, landing near the frigate HMS Penelope. Dubbed Operation Ursula, it remains the longest distance combat drop (8,000 miles all told) into an active conflict zone in history, and Chaundler, who led 2 PARA at Wireless Ridge, was the only member of the Parachute Regiment to jump during the Falklands.

Falklands land campaign, note the path of 2 Para at the bottom in dark red.

The British over the weekend marked the 40th Anniversary of the liberation of Goose Green, East Falkland.

“With a brisk wind blowing snow across the monument, a service of commemoration was held to remember those who gave their lives in the battle.”

Peter Kennedy was a 25-year-old Lieutenant at Goose Green and spoke in a recent 21-minute interview about the battle, in which he was suddenly thrust into leading the final attack.

Making like its 1942 Again

While today’s modern nuclear-powered submarines have surveillance, strike, ASW, and AShW as their primary missions, they also can still do well in that most age-old of submarine tasks– inserting small teams of commando types in the littoral, something I’ve always been a huge fan of.

For video reference, check out the below two very recent videos.

The first is of Royal Marines of Surveillance and Reconnaissance Squadron, 30 Commando Information Exploitation Group, conducting a small boat raid from an “unnamed Royal Navy Astute class submarine” (spoiler alert, it is HMS Ambush, S120, I mean the Brits only have five attack submarines left) during exercise Cold Response 2022, “somewhere along the Norwegian coast.”

The evolution includes the classic submergence under the rubber boat move.

Some stills released of the above: 

As for the Americans

Next up, how about U.S. Marines with Task Force 61/2 (TF-61/2), and Sailors from Task Group 68.1 conducting joint launch and recovery training with Combat Rubber Raiding Craft (CRRC) aboard the Ohio-class cruise-missile submarine USS Georgia (SSGN 729), near Souda Bay, Greece, March 26, 2022. The Marines are working from Georgia’s Dry Dock Shelter and are allowed to run up and launch from the sub’s “hump” in addition to going for a periscope ride.

KNIL KST, Ok?

As we have touched on in past articles, the Dutch East Indies had its own army, totally separate from the one based in Europe, that dated back to 1814– the Koninklijk Nederlands Indisch Leger, or KNIL. Coming up on the losing side (among good company) against the Empire of Japan in 1942, the KNIL was rebuilt in exile with the “Free Dutch” forces that ran a clandestine infiltration and intelligence gathering campaign behind Japanese lines (see Korps Insulinde) and helped liberate Borneo in 1945. Post-war, it was tossed into the maelstrom (along with British Army– mostly Indian troops– and, curiously, recycled Japanese occupation forces) that was the four-year, often very bloody, conflict that is listed in the history books as the Indonesian War of Independence.

As the history books and any map of the globe will tell you, the Dutch politionele acties (“police actions”) in what is now Indonesia would ultimately fail, and a Sukarno-led independent country would emerge and enter the greater Soviet influence, but that is going past the point of this post.

No, what I want to highlight here is the special COIN unit set up by the KNIL to fight Sukarno and company, one whose model would be recycled throughout the Cold War to tackle insurgent guerillas in bush wars ranging from Malaysia to Mozambique and Bolivia. The company-sized (Depot Speciale Troepen) and later battalion-sized Korps Speciale Troepen, literally the Special Troops Corps, was formed from a mix of Dutch volunteers– including veterans of the disbanded British No. 2 (Dutch) Troop and the Korps Insulinde— along with Eurasians and native soldiers– often drawn heavily from minorities in the islands such as the Moluccans. The latter was a tactic used in Vietnam by the U.S. a decade later with the persecuted ethnic Degar, Bahnar, Hmong, Nung, Jarai, Khmer Krom, and Montagnards who made up the core of the Mike Force and CIDG units fighting the Viet Cong and NVA.

Led by such men as the infamous Capt. Raymond Westerling, aka “The Turk,” who had become so good in commando training with the Free Dutch in 1942 that Fairbairn had selected him to become an instructor, the KSK was sent to islands and regions where guerilla fighters held more sway than the Dutch government. To get to these remote regions, the Dutch established a local parachute school on Java, forming 1e Paracompagnie (1st Para Company), to augment amphibious operations.

Due to their lineage, they were equipped with a strange mix of American, Australian, British, and– sometimes– even Dutch kit. They often wore a green beret, a holdover from the old No. 2 (Dutch) Commando days of WWII. 

Photo dump ensues.

KST paratrooper in school at Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea 1946-47. Note the Australian-made Owen submachine gun. NIMH AKL023561

A stick of 1e Parachutisten Compagnie troopers loaded in a Dakota on Operatie Ekster (Magpie) 12.29.49. Note the American chutes, British HSAT helmets and the SMLE .303 rifle. NIMH AKL023617

KST training paratrooper school, Hollandia (New Guinea) 1946-1947. Providing fire support. Note the Bren gun, centered, flanked by two Own SMGs, and American M1 helmets. AKL023560

Paratroopers from the KST gather in the field after a jump during an action or exercise. Dutch East Indies. 1948. One could easily imagine this photo captioned to be French paras in Dien Bien Phu. NIMH 2155_502065

KST Paratroopers are being prepared for an action 1948-50. Note the American frogskin “duck hunter” camo pants to the left, USMC HBT shirts, M1 Carbines, US-marked canteens and aid kits, and field knives, coupled with British HSAT para helmets. NIMH AKL023638

KST troops training in an old factory complex near the barracks, 1949. Dutch East Indies. This photo could almost pass for commando training in Scotland in 1945. NIMH AKL023619

Troop II of the 1st Para Company in action northeast of Krawang in West Java. 2.1948. Note the Owen gun in the foreground, sans magazine, and American M1 helmets

The advance of Dutch airborne troops from Magoewo airport to Djokjakarta at the start of the Second Police Action in Central Java. A Bren gunner positions his weapon at a signpost 4 km away from the city to be captured. 12.19.1948. NIMH AKL024567

Paratroopers of the Special Troops Corps walk at Magoewo airport near Djokjakarta to a number of (not visible) Dakotas. Note the PBY Catalina on the tarmac and slung SMLEs. NIMH AKL024539

Korps Speciale troepen Padalarang, West Java 11.29.1949. Note the skrim’d helmets and SMLEs

KST two man rubber rafts Padalarang, West Java 11.29.1949 AKL023586

KST assault boat with Bren gun Padalarang, West Java 11.29.1949 AKL023606

American paramarines, err, never mind, KST exercise, Batoedjadjar, Java, Dutch East Indies, 1949. NIMH

KST troops late in the conflict with locally-made Dutch camouflagekleding uniforms.

While we aren’t getting into the more controversial aspects of the KST such as its record of extrajudicial killings– the somewhat factually incorrect film The East (De Ost), which is currently available on Hulu, does plenty of that– the KST did go on to be the stepping stone that today’s professional Korps Commandotroepen of the Dutch Army counts in its linage.

The Free Dutch vs The Emperor in the East Indies

Following the fall of the Netherlands East Indies, the remnants of the Dutch colonial army– the KNIL– and Royal Dutch Navy fell back to Australia to regroup and carry on the fight for independence from exile. They were the lucky ones. Of the 42,000 European POWs taken by the Japanese in the East Indies in early 1942, almost one in five (8,200) would die before liberation.

This rag-tag group of survivors would carry on the war– with the Dutch submarine force being especially active— while the land forces would reform. Ultimately, in the liberation of Borneo in 1945, a 3,000-strong force dubbed 1ste Bataljon Infanterie and the Technisch Bataljon of the KNIL, landed on the beaches alongside Allied troops. Before that, the unit had its baptism of fire supporting the Americans at Biak.

Australian and Dutch units land in Borneo on the island of Tarakan. On April 30, 1945, units of the Australian Imperial Forces 9th Division and the KNIL land on the island of Tarakan of Borneo, starting the first combined Australian and KNIL attack on the Japanese army in Dutch- India. The photo shows Captain FE Meynders, commander of the 2nd Company of the 1ste Bataljon Infanterie of the KNIL, discussing the progress of the Tarakan campaign with Mr. L. Broch, war reporter for the Dutch news agency Aneta, on the beach of Lingkas on Tarakan Island.

However, before the 1ste Bataljon Infanterie and the Technisch Bataljon went back to the East Indies, the islands were often visited by Free Dutch forces running a clandestine war that gets no attention.

Meet the NEIFIS & the Korps Insulinde

The Netherlands East Indies Forces Intelligence Service, or NEIFIS, was formed in Australia from KNIL remnants starting in April 1942, some 80 years ago this month.

Regrouping of exiled Dutch/Dutch East Indies soldiers in Perth, Australia. Inspection by, among others, lieutenant commander of the first-class JAFH Douw van der Krap. Van der Krap was later assigned to the Netherlands Forces Intelligence Service (NEIFIS) as head of Division II; Internal Security & Security.

Besides counterintelligence duties such as censoring mail of Dutch refugees in the region and vetting volunteers, they soon formed commando units in conjunction with MacArthur’s Inter-Allied Services Department (ISD) that, dropped covertly via coasters and submarines on beaches in the East Indies, and later by parachute into the interior, they tried to gather intel on the Japanese and ignite a guerilla resistance in the archipelago.

NEIFIS was eventually given its own clandestine operations unit, dubbed the Korps Insulinde. Drawn initially from 150 men of the 1st Battalion, Koninklijke Brigade “Prinses Irene,” which had trained in England in 1940-41 then had been shipped to the Pacific, arriving at Ceylon just after the fall of Java, these Free Dutch went commando quite literally, and served alongside the SOE’s Force 136 Intelligence in the region. Ultimately, No. 2 (Dutch) Troop of the No. 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando would contribute volunteers to the enterprise as well.

In all, the Korps Insulinde would muster no less than 36 teams made up of 250 agents. They made 17 landings in Sumatra alone in 1943-44, in addition to operations in Borneo, the Celebes, New Guinea, and Java.

Members of the Korps Insulinde, made available to the Netherlands Forces Intelligence Service (NEIFIS), patrolling a fordable area in the vicinity of Merauke, New Guinea. Second from left is possibly First Lieutenant Infantry of the Royal Dutch East Indies Army J. de Roo. 2.9.1944. Note the American weapons and uniforms. NIMH AKL027827

Some of the operations performed by the Dutch:
 
Operations Tiger I-VI (Java) November 1942- July 1943, 10 men landed in six different teams. It is thought all members were captured and shot as none were seen again.
 

An IDS report on Tiger II

 
Operation Lion (1942) Celebes, all men missing in action. The follow-on Operation Apricot which landed in January 1945 to find the Lion commandos was also unlucky but was able to extract via Cataline after losing just one man.
 
Operation Flounder (1942)  Ceram Island, eight men, at least two executed
 
Operations Walnut I-III (1942-43) Aroe Islands, all teams presumed killed
 
Operation Oaktree/Crayfish (1942–44)– saw Dr. Jean Victor de Bruyn, a Dutch colonial district officer who had escaped in early 1942, return via Australian flying boat insertion in November 1942 with rifles and ammunition to organize and train native Papuan guerillas that spent the next 22 months raiding and ambushing Japanese positions, pillaging supplies and destroying ammunition dumps. Dr. De Bruyn was withdrawn by PBY in July 1944 from Hagers lake, escaping advancing Japanese once again
 

Dr Jean Victor de Bruyn and his native Papuan soldiers in Dutch New Guinea, 1943. Note the five soldiers in KNIL uniforms. Never stronger than a platoon, De Bruyn’s partisans tied down a battalion-strong Japanese force

 
Operation Whiting (1943) A joint six-man Dutch/Australian force was sent in to establish a coast watching station above Hollandia in February. By October, they had been captured and publicly beheaded. 
 

A photograph found on the body of a dead Japanese soldier showed Indonesian Private (Pte) M. Reharin, a member of the Netherlands East Indies (NEI) Forces wearing a blindfold about to be beheaded with a sword by Yunome Kunio. The execution was ordered by Vice Admiral Kamada, the commander of the Japanese Naval Forces at Aitape

 
Operation Prawn (1944) landing seven men of a NEFIS shore party from the Dutch submarine K XV on the coast of Sorong, New Guinea. 
 
Operation Firetree (1945) involved a 10-man NEIFIS team landing on the Soela Islands to access the situation. The detailed report on the shore party by its English-speaking Christian Ambonese commander, LT (and future Indonesian minister) Julius Tahija, shines a light on the types of operations these groups conducted. 
 

A page from the Firetree after action report

 
Operation Inco (1945) Dutch submarine K XV landed and extracted a small NEIFIS shore party at six different places along the Damar islands off Java for recon. 
 
Operation Opossum— April 1945, a 10-man Z Special Unit op with 3 Dutch officers attached to the island of Ternate near Borneo to rescue the Sultan of Ternate, Muhammad Jabir Syah. The sultan and his family were taken to Morotai by PT boat. 
 
Operation Parsnip (1945) a five-man NEIFIS shore party landed from Dutch submarine K XV on the north coast of Java. They were picked up almost immediately by the Japanese and two commandos were killed.
 
Operations Platypus I-XI (1945) involved small 2-man teams of mixed Australian and Dutch commandos inserted by folboats, prahu canoes, and rubber dinghies from submarines along the Balikpapan area of Dutch Borneo between March and July then resupplied by air as needed. This is one of the more successful operations and most operators survived. The companion all-Australian Operations Python I-V, Agas, and Semut, involving about 90 Z Special Unit Commandos operating deep into the interior of British Borneo and Sarawak, were likewise successful. 
 
As noted by the Australian War Memorial: 
 
These operations were at best dangerous, and at worst suicidal. The series of landing parties on Java known as “Tiger I–VI” were captured and executed almost to a man. Similar fates befell the “Walnut” ( Aroe Islands ) and “Whiting” (Dutch New Guinea) groups, and in all, nearly 40 lives were lost.
 
However, some successful operations were undertaken. In general, however, they tended to be those involving groups already cut off behind enemy lines, reasonably well-armed, and acting as guerrillas. The “Oaktree” party, in particular, based in the remote country of central Dutch New Guinea, and under the command of the redoubtable Captain J.V. de Bruijn, remained a thorn in the side of the Japanese for more than two years between 1942 and 1944. This group was able to supply valuable intelligence, tie-down a superior enemy force, and maintain the prestige of the Dutch among the inhabitants of the area. Sadly, it was the exception rather than the rule.
A Dutch commando is a character, Lieutenant J.A. (Jan) Veitch, in the 1982 Australian war sleeper, Attack Force Z, featuring an Australian Z Special Unit team in a covert operation based on Operation Opossum, where a team of commandos rescued the local sultan on the Japanese-occupied island of Ternate near Borneo.
 
 
In the end, the NEIFIS and Korps Insulinde would accept the surrender of some 15,000 Japanese troops on Sumatra. 
 
Speaking of the end, post VJ-Day, the NEFIS and Korps Insulinde would soon morph into the Korps Speciale Troepen to fight the budding Indonesian insurgency into 1950, then grow into today’s modern Korps Commandotroepen. 
 
But that is another story. 

Daniel Still Getting Some Love from Crane

The Pentagon announced earlier this week that Georgia-based Daniel Defense has won a large contract issued through the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Crane Division.

Located in Black Creek, Daniel Defense is no stranger to supplying high-speed components to the military’s most elite units, having delivered quad rails and the Rail Interface System II, or RIS II, to the U.S. Special Operations Command for years. Likewise, the company has been a supplier of barrels and gas blocks for SOCOM’s Upper Receiver Group-Improved program.

The URG-I, coupled with a standard M4 lower, is reportedly used by units as diverse as the U.S. Army Rangers and Special Forces. The latest contract for Daniel, a $9.1 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity award, is for 11.5-inch and 14.5-inch cold-hammer-forged barrels for URG-Is. 

As the Navy’s FY22 workbook lists the price for these receiver kits- at $780, the contract could cover upwards of 11,000 URGs, enough for most of the trigger pullers in SOCOM. 

Neptuns Dunklen Söhnen, with blasters by FN

The Austrian Army this week released a behind-the-scenes look at a little-known frogman unit in the landlocked country, complete with a cameo by FN.

In terms of size, it is thought that the country only maintains about 50 such divers for use in rivers and lakes in the Alpine country. While Austria hasn’t had a coastline since 1918, the nation does have 40 large lakes including Lake Constance on its Western border with Switzerland and Germany, as well as the immense Danube River system which runs through the country. With that, Austria’s combat swimmers (Kampfschwimmers) are highly trained, with its members taking three years to earn their badge.

Besides their Glock 17 pistols– Austria was the first country to adopt the now-iconic handgun as the P80– and Steyr AUG (StG 77) bullpup rifles, the Kampfschwimmer also field the FN P90 in 5.7 NATO.

Austria’s commandos adopted the P90 about 15 years ago, replacing the Steyr MPi 69 sub-gun as a close-in weapon, and augmenting the B&T TMP.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Cockleshell Heroes on Tour

Men of “L” Squadron SBS (Special Boat Squadron) investigate the ruins of the Acropolis in Athens, 13-14 October 1944. Note that three of the operators carry M1 Carbines while the fourth seems to have a more British BREN gun.

Offical caption, “Once inside the Acropolis, the troops take time off to examine these famous ruins of a former civilization. Photo by Johnson, Sergeant, No. 2 Army Film and Photo Section, Army Film and Photographic Unit. IWM Photo NA 19483.

When it comes to the fact that the Marines above are using American carbines, other British elite units in Greece at the time did the same thing, as referenced by this image of Paras from 5th (Scots) Parachute Battalion, 2nd Parachute Brigade, taking cover on a street corner in Athens during operations against members of ELAS, 6 December 1944.

IWM NA 20515

A good primer on the SBS in Greece, as well as other such units in the Med during WWII, is Brook Richard’s excellent “Secret Flotillas Vol II: Clandestine Sea Operations in the Western Mediterranean, North African & the Adriatic 1940-1944.” 

Queen’s new Rangers Low Crawling to a Reality

In 1999, there were six regiments in the “Scottish Division” — the Royal Scots, the Royal Highland Fusiliers (RHF), the King’s Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB), the Black Watch, The Highlanders, and the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. These were all amalgamated, reduced, blended with several Lowland units, and eventually labeled as the *seven-battalion (*five active, two reserve) Royal Regiment of Scotland by 2006. However, this has been whittled down over the years, but we’ll get to that. 

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace last week announced that The First Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, The Royal Scots Borderers (1 SCOTS), will be recast as the initial backbone of the British Army’s new Ranger Regiment, a force which will ultimately have four battalions when fleshed out. These will eventually be made up of the transferred 2nd Battalion, Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (2 PWRR); the 2nd Battalion, Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (2 LANCS); and the 4th Battalion, The Rifles (4 RIFLES).

The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (1 SCOTS) march down the Royal Mile after accepting the Freedom of the city of Edinburgh on behalf of the Regiment. Sadly, the unit will lose its “Scottishness” when it becomes a Ranger unit. Photo by Mark Owens/HQScot. MOD/Crown copyright

Two of the Royal Regiment of Scotland’s other roughly 500-man battalions will continue to be based in Scotland, for now at least, with 2 SCOTS staying in Edinburgh and 3 SCOTS staying in Inverness until 2029 before moving to Leuchars – forming an integral part of a new Security Force Assistance Brigade. The Highlanders (4 SCOTS) are based in England at Bourlon Barracks as part of Catterick Garrison. This means, instead of the seven Scottish battalions that the RRS was founded with, it will be down to just three active, plus an independent company branded as a battalion (the famed Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, 5 SCOTS, was long ago cut down to company strength – branded the Balaklava Company in recognition to its “Thin Red Line” days – used for ceremonial duties in Scotland.) 6 SCOTS and 7 SCOTS are reserve units. However, the regiment will still have at least 10 bands left over after 1 SCOTS converts to the Rangers. 

Speaking of the Rangers, it is envisioned they would be a quick-deploying special operations-ish group, seemingly falling shy of SAS and about the same level as the Paras only without the chutes or the RM Commandos but without the amphibious skillset. Each battalion will consist of just 250 men– less than half the size of a U.S. Green Beret battalion/British Para battalion or a third the size of a battalion of the U.S. 75th Ranger Regiment. The smaller force will be chosen from the current soldiers after an eight-week, two-part assessment then undergoes a further eight months of additional training before the unit is rated ready. 

The British Army has also in the past week unveiled the cap badge of The Ranger Regiment, a Peregrine Falcon clasping a Ranger scroll. The badge will be worn on a gun-metal beret, augmented by the shoulder flash of the old WWII Special Service Brigade, two Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knives:

The Ranger Regiment is very proud of its new cap badge which takes inspiration and spirit from the Peregrine Falcon; fast, agile and fiercely loyal to its partner, it operates around the world in all environments including deserts, mountains and cities. It has been designed to demonstrate a new capability for the Army.

It follows a long history of birds being used as emblems and logos around the world. Peregrine derives from the medieval Latin word ‘peregrinus’ which means wanderer. It is the most geographically dispersed bird of prey and can be found on every continent, less Antarctica. The Peregrine Falcon is also the fastest bird on the planet, with a diving speed of over 200 miles per hour.

While many regiments have a cloth badge for officers and a metal badge for soldiers, everyone serving in the Ranger Regiment will wear a metal badge, irrespective of rank.

Of course, the badge is already drawing flak due to the fact that it looks a whole lot like the Osprey badge worn by the Rhodies of the old Selous Scouts, the controversial and oft-smeared Rhodesian Army irregulars that did all sorts of nastiness during the Bush Wars in the late 1970s.

Ranger Falcon. vs Rhodie Osprey

And the beat goes on…

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