Mountain Leader Training Cadre

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Mountain Leader Training Cadre
Royal Marines
Country United Kingdom
Branch Royal Marines
Type Training
Role Instruction unit

The Mountain Leader Training Cadre is a training element of the British Royal Marines which provides instruction in Mountain Warfare, Arctic warfare, cold weather survival and operations, and cliff assault. The Cadre has a permanent staff of Mountain and Arctic Warfare instructors and trains Mountain Leaders for employment in the formations of the corps.

Mountain Leaders and The Cadre's role involve all aspects of mountaineering, reconnaissance, route-finding, rock climbing, ice climbing and survival in cold temperatures. Each company sized sub-unit within a Commando is required to have at least one Grade 2 Mountain Leader (ML2) who will have undergone training with the Cadre. Grade 1 Mountain Leaders will conduct Cold Weather Warfare for Company groups upwards.


During the 1950s the Royal Marine Cliff Assault Wing formed to train Marines in rock climbing and cliff assault techniques. Elite training of Cliff Leaders in the late 1950s required rocky landings from various small craft (kayaks, Zodiacs and other motorized assault craft) often in heavy seas onto the Cornish coast, and rapid tactical ascents and descent of the vertical faces.[1] This skill set was necessary for exposing all trainees during the last week of the commando (green beret) course. Instructors publicly demonstrated (e.g. at Navy Days) commando methods of abseiling and high-speed fixed rope descent from clifftop grapple-hook anchors. These would typically include the 'run-down' method (a simple face down arm wrap, sometimes demonstrated on high urban buildings, and essential when carrying small arms) and the 'front swallow' and other dangerous slides down a fixed rope. These demonstrations were discontinued after Captain Antony Easterbrook, a 31-year-old member of the Cadre, fell to his death during a display in Madison Square Garden in 1960.[2]

The remit of the Wing grew through the 1950s and '60s until it became responsible for Winter Warfare and Reconnaissance, becoming the Reconnaissance Leader Troop. Becoming the Mountain and Arctic Warfare Cadre in 1970 the personnel moved to Stonehouse Barracks in Plymouth, training all units in 3 Commando Brigade in its new role in defence of NATO's northern flank covering Northern Europe during the later Cold War.

The Mountain and Arctic Warfare Cadre featured in the 1985 BBC Television documentary series Behind the Lines. The series followed the progress of 25 prospective members of the cadre as they endure survival training on a Hebridean island and Arctic conditions in Norway.[3]

In 1992 the Cadre was split, forming the nucleus of the Brigade Patrol Troop and becoming the Mountain Leader Training Cadre. The Cadre later reunited before splitting up again in 2000. The Cadre remains based in Stonehouse however cold weather training is carried out in Norway.


ML2 is open to Subalterns and Other Ranks who have completed Junior Command Course. The course is 8 months long and takes place over the autumn and winter months in the United Kingdom and Norway. Training includes rock climbing, survival, Resistance to Interrogation (RTI), patrolling and raiding, snow and ice climbing and cold weather survival. All candidates are required to qualify as Military Ski Instructors.

The final assessment is a patrol exercise in Norway involving infiltration, close reconnaissance, exfiltration followed by capture and RTI.

ML2s will provide Mountain and Arctic Warfare training within a sub-unit command and will support ML1s in unit training.

ML1 is open only to Royal Marines who have completed Senior Command Course. Training similarly takes 8 months, with candidates instructing ML2 training under supervision before being assessed by experienced trainers instructing in regular units. The course completes on the PATROLEX with ML2s, as section leader and similarly culminating in capture and RTI.

Conflict role[edit]

Whilst the Cadre is a training and instructional unit, the expertise held by the permanent staff can be exploited in conflict, as experienced ML1s these Marines may be called on to form reconnaissance patrols or lead cliff assaults for 3 Commando Brigade.

Falklands War[edit]

During the Falklands War the staff and students formed two patrol groups and were engaged in direct action alongside other Brigade assets, such as the Skirmish at Top Malo House.


  1. ^ See Commando Climber by Mike Banks, Commanding Officer (London J.M. Dent 1955).
  2. ^ "Tattoo Gymnast Killed in Plunge". New York Times. July 1, 1960. 
  3. ^ "Behind the Lines". BBC. Retrieved 1 September 2015.  External link in |website= (help)

Coordinates: 50°21.975′N 4°9.660′W / 50.366250°N 4.161000°W / 50.366250; -4.161000 (Mountain Leader Training Cadre RM)