Royal Marines to use Lympstone village for exercise

COUNCILLORS have supported plans for gun-carrying Royal Marine officers to use Lympstone village as a base for a counter-insurgency exercise. A number of public consultations have been held to discuss the plans since Major Andy Watkins, who runs officer t

COUNCILLORS have supported plans for gun-carrying Royal Marine officers to use Lympstone village as a base for a counter-insurgency exercise.

A number of public consultations have been held to discuss the plans since Major Andy Watkins, who runs officer training at the Commando training Centre, first raised the matter at a parish council meeting held last October.

After months of discussions about the issue, the council, at a meeting held last Monday, April 13, finally gave the green light to the proposals.

A working group will now be set up within the council's communications committee to ensure the exercise will be well publicised in the village beforehand.


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The exercise will be based on counter insurgency techniques that young officers have learnt and which they will have to apply when on duty.

Mr Watkins said: "It will be about testing officers' intellect and problem-solving abilities.

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"It could (the exercise) become an annual thing - it all depends on how it goes."

The officers will go into Lympstone village overnight on October 25. There will be some activity in the area overnight.

The young officers will carrying weapons but Mr Watkins said this would not be in any menacing sort of way. Guns will be loaded with blank ammunition.

It is not intended there will be any firing of guns as this would be seen as a failure in dealing with insurgents.

Officers will patrol the area, meeting key leaders, setting up vehicle check points in quiet lanes and engaging with the public.

They will also tackle hypothetical 'known players' who could be forces' colleagues or designated village volunteers. There could be activities taking place in shops or pubs as part of the exercise.

The Royal Marines will work closely with local police to make sure the exercise did not raise incidental or ongoing security issues.

This was a matter that concerned one member of the public who attended this week's parish council meeting.

Mr Watkins, reassuring anyone with such concerns, said: "The police are experts in security in the area. If they said there would a raised level of threat, we would obviously not go ahead.

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