Royal Marines start exercises in Albania

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More than 600 Royal Marine commandos have landed in Albania for the start of a series of major exercises.

The commandos are preparing to take part in the first of a series of exercises dubbed Cougar 13, which will test the Royal Navy’s Response Force Task Group.

They are currently preparing ahead of the start of the exercise next week and are waiting for the arrival of the Royal Navy’s flagship Bulwark, as well as helicopter carrier Illustrious, and their embarked Royal Marines and elements of the Fleet Air Arm.

The task force recently docked in Gibraltar amid increasing tensions over the Rock, on its way to Cougar 13.

Dubbed Albanian Lion, next week’s exercise is the first in Cougar 13 and has seen more than 600 Royal Marine commandos, mainly from 42 Commando in Plymouth, land in the mountainous region of Bise, Albania.

Acclimatising to rugged conditions and heat, they have already undertaken a series of river crossings, abseils and carried out mock assaults on enemy positions – all at heights ranging between 4,500ft (1,372m) and 6,000ft (1,829m).

Once the task force is assembled in the Adriatic, they will work with Albania’s armed forces to put the Lead Commando Group ashore in a “high tempo scenario”.