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30 Commando follow in footsteps of WW2 heroes on frontline in Afghanistan

May 20, 2011

Sixty years ago, an offensive Naval intelligence unit made up of Royal Marines ventured into Norway to capture vital Nazi technology that helped the Allies win the Second World War.

This weekend, a new film telling the courageous story of 30 Commando will be released in cinemas across the UK. Its release comes as 30 Commando are embarked on their first operational tour since that offensive back in 1943.

30 Commando Support Squadron who are the Brigade Reconnaissance Force take part in an operation in Helmand province Afghanistan. Photo: LA(Phot) Hamish Burke. Crown Copyright/MOD 2011

Despite their successes in WW2, 30 Commando was disbanded during post war demobilisation. It was only last December that the auspicious title was reintroduced when it was adopted by United Kingdom Landing Force Command Support Group (UKLF CSG) to better reflect the unit’s role and continued use of the skills, techniques and methodology learnt by their forbearers during WW2.

Six weeks ago, 30 Commando deployed to Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK 14, as part of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines. The unit, made up predominantly of Royal Marines also includes Royal Navy, RAF and Army personnel. Their main job is to find information; understand the information to derive intelligence from it and thus enable operational decisions.

30 Commando Support Squadron who are the Brigade Reconnaissance Force take part in an operation in Helmand province Afghanistan. Photo: LA(Phot) Hamish Burke. Crown Copyright/MOD 2011

Lieutenant Colonel Matt Stovin-Bradford RM is the Commanding Officer of 30 Commando. He explains the significant role his men and women play in the fight against the insurgents:

“30 Commando’s mission in Afghanistan is to gain information superiority on the Battlefield and gain intelligence from the enemy to ensure the future success of British and Afghan forces. While 30 Commando aren’t the only intelligence unit in Afghanistan they are among the few who can trace their lineage back to WW2 applying many of the same covert principles but with the most modern technology.”

The modern day 30 Commando comprises four Squadrons (Communications, Support, Logistics and Y Squadron) who are each at the forefront of obtaining and processing intelligence. They have been augmented in Afghanistan by two Royal Artillery Batteries, who provide Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) assets and surveillance experts. On HERRICK 14, 30 Cdo Support Squadron is the Brigade Reconnaissance Force who are an agile and flexible force able to go deep into enemy territory unsupported and for protracted periods of time.

30 Commando Support Squadron who are the Brigade Reconnaissance Force take part in an operation in Helmand province Afghanistan. Photo: LA(Phot) Hamish Burke. Crown Copyright/MOD 2011

Their Officer Commanding is Major Nick Foster RM:

“Our job is to conduct intelligence led operations, focussed very much in the insurgents’ safe havens, operating well ahead of other Coalition Forces. The BRF is independent on the battlefield and can find and identify insurgents, through basic soldiering methods to the most technical unmanned air vehicles all while maintaining the ability to attack the enemy where he feels safe. Our activities frequently generate exploitable intelligence which we pass back to Headquarters Task Force Helmand.”

Information and intelligence is also collected and analysed by Y Squadron and their attached Intelligence Corps specialists. Y Squadron intercept enemy communications and fuse their findings with the thirty Company Intelligence Teams who pass information to Commanders to make tactical decisions based on the very best, up to date assessments of what is going on.

Through a combination of these and many other skills, in the short time they have been deployed, 30 Commando have seized large quantities of opium, tens of thousands of US Dollars used to purchase weapons and equipment on the black market and been in close contact with the enemy in combat.

Click on any of the images to view a full a full set on our UK Forces Afghanistan Flickr page.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Nicholas Lutwyche permalink
    May 20, 2011 18:45

    Is Lt. Col. M Stovin-Bradford RM related to Capt. Stovin-Bradford RN? The latter was a Fleet Air Arm pilot who, as a Lt.Cdr was flying Sea-Furies from HMS Theseus during the Korean War in 1951. I think he had a DSC and bar? Not sure if he was one of two Sea Fury Pilots mistakenly jumped by 2 USMC Corsairs – Sea Furies 1 Corsairs Nil. Capt. Stovin- Bradford was a keen proponent of the Fleet Air Arm Field Gun’s Crew and of the Blue Jacket Band. He composed a march for the FAA – “Flying Stations”, I think was the title of the piece; and he was C.O of RNAS Brawdy in the late 50’s.

    • frank skinner permalink
      April 12, 2012 20:48

      I WAS AN AIR MECHANIC[L] on 736.796 and 741 squadrons at RNAS st merryn cornwall in 1947 to1949.Lt stovin-bradford was one of the pilots there.aircraft were seafires,fireflys,martinet target tugs,sea-otters,harvards and one avenger.

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