March 29th 2016

A focus on the Royal Marines Reserve (RMR)

Major Al Edgar

Major Al Edgar currently serves as the Officer Commanding at the Nottingham Detachment of the Royal Marines Reserve (RMR). Here he talks about the training the Royal Marines Reservists go through and how the road to earning the Green Beret is just as mentally challenging as it is physically.

Q – What training do you have to undertake to become a Royal Marines Reservist?
A – As reservists we work to the same standard as regular Royal Marines, the only difference being that the training for reservists is spread out over a longer period of time, which is usually around 15 months compared to the 32 weeks for regulars. Our recruit training is split into two different sections called Phase One Alpha and Phase One Bravo. Phase One Alpha is our basic training and Phase One Bravo is our commando training. On completion, recruits must then pass the two week Commando Course in order to wear the Green Beret and become a Royal Marines Commando.

Q – What do the two levels of training consist of?
A – The training under Phase One Alpha aims to develop the recruit’s basic soldiering skills and includes training such as: how to look after yourself in the field, weapons handling, basic fieldcraft, map reading, shooting and physical training which includes marching with kit. Under the Phase One Bravo stage of training, recruits take their soldiering skills a step further and undertake amphibious training, speed marching, reconnaissance and fighting patrolling, ambushing, cliff assaults, assault courses while carrying kit and yomping, which sees recruits march with almost 100 pounds of kit. In my day job I work as an Airline Pilot so I know that this is the equivalent of carrying two large suitcases on your back for extended periods of time.

Q – With 22 years’ experience as a Royal Marines Reservist, what do you think it takes to succeed in the training?
A – There is a common misconception that we are looking for only one type of person, but anyone from any background can apply. At the Nottingham Detachment we have recruits, who in their civilian lives work as everything from Plumbers to police officers. To succeed in the training however, it is all about being mentally fit as well as physically fit . The training that Royal Marines undertake is widely regarded as being the toughest training in the world and it could be described as needing a particular state of mind which not everybody may have.

Q – What do you think the highlights of being a Royal Marines Reserve are?
A – The training programme is incredibly varied and ensures that individuals are fully prepared to complete operational tours and exercises as a Royal Marines Commando alongside our regular counterparts. During my time as a Royal Marines Reservist I have completed operational tours of Afghanistan and Iraq and now enjoy being able to support detachment members through their training within my current role. For me, being a reservist gives me a sense of purpose and the personal development opportunities are extremely valuable in civilian life.

To find out more about the RMR, visit: