How to Train to Become a Royal Marines Mountain Leader

Updated July 20, 2017

In 1992 the British military began a reorganisation program. Some of the reconnaissance units of the Royal Marine's Commando Brigades were detached from the Brigades and became known as the Royal Marine Mountain Leaders. This unit is considered to be one of the premier mountain climbing and cold weather forces in the world. While the reconnaissance units were part of combat operations in places like the Falkland Islands and Iraq, today's Mountain Leaders are well known for their role as trainers for other military forces.

Apply for as many advanced training programs as you can including sniper school, parachute school and anti-tank and mortar training. Competition to become a Mountain Leader is fierce, and sometimes only one out of five Marines graduates from the program. Complete these advanced programs to increase your chances of being selected.

Qualify for Mountain Leader Class 2, either as a junior commissioned officer or as an enlisted Marine who has attained the rank of corporal. Regardless of rank, all candidates will be held to tough physical standards. Perform a daily regimen combining running, callisthenics and hiking to help get you into shape before you are accepted for formal training.

Pass a weeklong selection phase that evaluates your fitness level and leadership potential so you can advance to the first phase of the training course. You will go to Cornwall for several weeks to take a climbing course. The local cliffs are used to learn rope climbing and free climbing.

Complete survival training to remain in the program. This phase emphasises a number of skills including land navigation, resistance to interrogation and how to find food and water. You will also be expected to practice these skills while under the stress of forced marches and participating in tactical operations.

Travel to Norway with the other Mountain Leader candidates for cold weather operations training. The survival and climbing skills you already learnt will be tested under Arctic conditions. You will also learn ice climbing techniques and ski-marching over long distances. All candidates must become qualified to teach these cold weather skills to other soldiers and Marines.

Finish the final phase of the program by going to Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland, for three weeks of pathfinder training. You will learn advanced tracking and navigation techniques and use them along with the climbing and survival techniques you have already learnt.

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About the Author

Mike Phelps earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Connecticut and a Master of Arts degree in military history from Norwich University in Vermont. He regularly publishes articles regarding homeland security issues at a prominent website and is the author of the book "A Short History of the Long War: The Global Struggle Against Militant Islamism."