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Marines Close Quarter Train - 2021 Tartan Eagle Phase 2
by U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Angel Alvarado
January 3, 2022

Force Protection Group Royal Marines Cpl. Michael Dowd, an armored support group team member with 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines, is assigned to Recapture Tactics Troop (RTT), Royal Marines. Dowd was selected to participate in exercise Tartan Eagle, a bilateral bi-yearly training exercise split into two phases for the U.S. Marines and British Royal Marines to train close-quarters battle (CQB) strategy and tactics.

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Trenton Z. Brown, a rifleman and team leader with Recapture Tactics Team, Marine Corps Security Force Regiment, and British Royal Marine Cpl. Michael Dowd, an armored support group team member with 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines, adjusts a battle sight zero on a C8 assault rifle during exercise Tartan Eagle Phase II, Northumbria Police Range, Wallsend, England, December 11, 2021. This range allowed U.S. Marines to operate alongside British Royal Marines in a similar occupation field while conducting movement-to-contact and pistol drills. Exercise Tartan Eagle is a bilateral bi-yearly training exercise for the U.S. Marines and British Royal Marines to train close-quarters battle strategy and tactics. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Angel Alvarado)
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Trenton Z. Brown, a rifleman and team leader with Recapture Tactics Team, Marine Corps Security Force Regiment, and British Royal Marine Cpl. Michael Dowd, an armored support group team member with 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines, adjusts a battle sight zero on a C8 assault rifle during exercise Tartan Eagle Phase II, Northumbria Police Range, Wallsend, England, December 11, 2021. This range allowed U.S. Marines to operate alongside British Royal Marines in a similar occupation field while conducting movement-to-contact and pistol drills. Exercise Tartan Eagle is a bilateral bi-yearly training exercise for the U.S. Marines and British Royal Marines to train close-quarters battle strategy and tactics. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Angel Alvarado)

In Phase I of Tartan Eagle Dowd traveled to Chesapeake, Virginia where he was introduced to the U.S. Marines with the Recapture Tactics Team (RTT), Marine Corps Security Force Regiment (MCSFR) CQB tactics and training facilities; however Phase II took place in Europe allowing Dowd to instruct British Royal Marine CQB to the U.S. Marines.

Dowd stated, “The objective is to take little bits of tactics from another nation to aid your own training, whether that will be the different positions of the weapon systems or conduct of teams.”

The British Royal Marines were pushed past their comfort zones and learned U.S. Marines weapons handling, breeching, movement to contact drills, and CQB procedures. Nonetheless, Dowd embraced the growth and his newfound understanding of adaptability. He discovered being malleable is an essential tool to adjust to new conditions and intended to apply this tool as he instructed the U.S. Marines.

“I've grown to have an adaptable and open mindset for the U.S. Marines CQB tactics,” Dowd continued, “It has shown us the importance of adaptability and not having tunnel vision so you can widen your capabilities.”

The U.S. Marine Corps thrives on breaking that barrier of comfort in order to build individuals who continuously develop both on and off duty. The RTT Marines were on forgein soil, in forgein facilities, utilizing forgein tactics; naturally some challenges arose.

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Garrett Rutan, a rifleman and Recapture Tactics Team (RTT) team member, Marine Corps Security Force Regiment, fires a C8 carbine rifle during exercise Tartan Eagle Phase II, Northumbria Police Range, Wallsend, England, December 11, 2021. U.S. Marines worked alongside British Royal Marines close-quarters battle (CQB) instructors to refine movement-to-contact skills and capabilities. Exercise Tartan Eagle is a bilateral bi-yearly training exercise in which the U.S Marines and their British counterparts travel to each other's training facilities to compare CQB strategy and tactics. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Angel Alvarado)
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Garrett Rutan, a rifleman and Recapture Tactics Team (RTT) team member, Marine Corps Security Force Regiment, fires a C8 carbine rifle during exercise Tartan Eagle Phase II, Northumbria Police Range, Wallsend, England, December 11, 2021. U.S. Marines worked alongside British Royal Marines close-quarters battle (CQB) instructors to refine movement-to-contact skills and capabilities. Exercise Tartan Eagle is a bilateral bi-yearly training exercise in which the U.S Marines and their British counterparts travel to each other's training facilities to compare CQB strategy and tactics. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Angel Alvarado)

“The hardest thing was for them (the U.S. Marines) to keep the weapon in a high port position. We do that so we can bring it (buttstock) to the shoulder quicker and put the battle point in our enemy threat quicker,” Dowd explains, “but because they are so concerned for safety, they are used to dropping it to the low port position, which is understandable and what we learned in America.”

The British Royal Marines only speak when necessary to strategically catch any potential threat off guard. This change in operating procedure affected the U.S. Marines as well when training overseas during exercise Tartan Eagle Phase II. RTT Marines are trained to conduct CQB with aggression and speed, not only as an intimidation factor but to ensure they can communicate in high-intensity scenarios.

“The U.S. Marines are more vocal and loud, however we are more silent to keep that element of surprise.” Dowd explained, “When we were in America we tried to operate and communicate vocally like them, but when the U.S. Marines came here it was reversed, and we had to teach them how to only be as vocal and aggressive when deemed necessary.”

Throughout the training, the RTT Marines began to effectively adapt and incorporate British Royal Marine CQB tactics into their close-quarters skill set. Both fighting forces displayed dedication, innate cohesion and passion for CQB skill refinement which allowed easy interoperability. Dowd took note of the benefits of two nations training together and the growth occurring within the service members.

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Trenton Z. Brown, left, and Cpl. Levi W. Davis, middle, both riflemen with Recapture Tactics Team, Marine Corps Security Force Regiment, and British Royal Marine Mne. William Pagan, right, a designated shotgunner with 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines, verify a C8 assault rifle battle sight zero during exercise Tartan Eagle Phase II, Northumbria Police Range, Wallsend, England, December 12, 2021. U.S. Marines were taught and assessed by British Royal Marine close-quarters battle (CQB) instructors in various enemy engagement tactics, techniques and procedures. Exercise Tartan Eagle is a bilateral, bi-yearly training exercise for the U.S. Marines and British Royal Marines to train CQB strategy and tactics. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Angel Alvarado)
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Trenton Z. Brown, left, and Cpl. Levi W. Davis, middle, both riflemen with Recapture Tactics Team, Marine Corps Security Force Regiment, and British Royal Marine Mne. William Pagan, right, a designated shotgunner with 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines, verify a C8 assault rifle battle sight zero during exercise Tartan Eagle Phase II, Northumbria Police Range, Wallsend, England, December 12, 2021. U.S. Marines were taught and assessed by British Royal Marine close-quarters battle (CQB) instructors in various enemy engagement tactics, techniques and procedures. Exercise Tartan Eagle is a bilateral, bi-yearly training exercise for the U.S. Marines and British Royal Marines to train CQB strategy and tactics. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Angel Alvarado)

“They (U.S. Marines) trained in our CQB facility and used different types of methods of entry… it was good to see them adapt and try to use our tactics,” Dowd continued, “...training with the U.S. Marines was brilliant, it's always good to interact with other nations and build up that cohesion. It's very easy as well because the U.S. Marines are very experienced with pistol and rifle shooting.”

Dowd was given the opportunity to train in a forgein country, refine his CQB tactics with the U.S. Marines and pursue personal growth by applying versatile character. He described his immense amount of gratitude to train beside the U.S. Marines and establish camaraderie.

“It’s always phenomenal training in America because the urban terrain training facilities are a lot bigger and the U.S. Marines have more equipment. However, allowing the U.S. Marines to come to our facilities was also great. We were able to focus on comparing CQB tactics and methods,” Dowd continued, “I have worked with the Americans multiple times and it's always a pleasure. We have the same sense of humor and it’s always just a great time.”

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