It will be interesting to track how this is viewd on Rum Ration. Seconds out, round 1. Marines pour scorn on Army commandos By Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondent (Filed: 10/04/2006) A battle has broken out over the role of the first Army commando unit to be formed since the Second World War, with the Royal Marines claiming that the infantry lack "the suitable calibre" to join their force. While the Marines believe they are doing the Army a good turn by saving an infantry battalion from cuts, senior soldiers have said that they are bringing the under-manned commandos up to full brigade strength. The new unit will be formed when two infantry regiments are amalgamated next year to become 1 Bn The Rifles. Soldiers from the Devon and Dorsets and the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry are already conducting extra physical training in preparation to become part of the Royal Marines tough 3 Commando Brigade, which at its core has three formations of about 550 men each. The battalion's officers and men have been unable to hide their excitement at joining the commando brigade but they will be disappointed at the role the Marines have proposed for them. Under plans seen by The Daily Telegraph, the wartime role of 1 Rifles will be to protect rear head quarters and supply depots and guard prisoners of war. At best they will be allowed to defend a port or oil refinery after it has been stormed by Marines in helicopters or assault landing craft. "There is the option of them coming across as fully fledged commandos with the same kind of equipment and training as us," a senior Marine officer said. "But it's a non-starter as the Army don't have the right calibre of people to do that and we don't have the capacity or space to train a battalion of 600 men." The Army formation will also be used as 3 Commando's "roulement" battalion, fulfilling its slots of mundane six month tours in less popular operations such as Kosovo, Northern Ireland or Iraq while the Marines unit would be kept in high readiness for specialised operations. "What we have at the moment is a highly capable organisation being essentially out of the picture for almost 12 months used on these tours," the senior Marine officer said. "We want to keep the three commando units for what they are there are best at - as an expeditionary force that can also support special forces." While the Marines believe it is "not an option" for the soldiers to become a fully fledged commando unit, senior Army sources have indicated that, although in the short term 1 Rifles will take a back seat role, within three or four years they will be fully commando trained and equipped. "Our view is to get stuck in and become commandos but the Navy seem to have rather backward approach where they see them as poor second cousins who will free up the commandos to go off and do special operations," an Army source said. A source from an infantry unit criticised the Marines' attitude towards their potential new commando colleagues. "What they are proposing, essentially giving us rear security, would be intolerable," he said. "No commanding officer of a battalion of line infantry, having served in Afghanistan and Iraq, would accept that under any circumstances. "I also find it amazing that they think raw recruits from the Royal Marines would be of a higher calibre than a soldier who has completed three or four very tough operational tours." The new unit will come under Royal Navy command but will be paid for by the Army.