The Royal Naval Brigade
The Royal Naval Brigade is a force of sailors originally trained to protect the Royal Navy whilst ashore or in port. The overstretch of the NAC Army and its concentration on coloniall warfare and the specialisation of the Royal Marines has led to a need for a dedicated force in this role. Units of the RAN Bde can be found scattered around the world garrisoning the Royal Anglian Confederation Space Navy’s bases and now providing ship's troops. In addition to this parts of the RN Bde are deployed to protect the Fleet Aerospace Arm when it is deployed ashore.
The Royal Brigade traces its roots to the British Royal Naval (later 63rd) Division of World War 1. It was created as an infantry division from surplus reserve sailors and Royal Marines by Winston Churchill in 1914. Its first action at Antwerp, half trained and under-equipped, was a debacle. However in subsequent actions at Gallipolli and on the Western Front the unit won a reputation as a fine fighting division, even winning the grudging respect of the Anzacs. It was disbanded at the end of the war.
The RN Brigade current size is around 3000 sailors and officers. There seems little likelihood that this will change in the near future.
The RN Brigade recruits from civilians who elect to join the services, and also from serving sailors who transfer from other branches of the Senior Service. Service in the RN Brigade is on the same terms as enlistment in the other branches of the service. In common with the other services recruitment into the Royal Anglian Space Navy is open to NAC citizens.
Personnel choosing to join the RN Brigade are initial trained with other recruits at the various RN training depots. They then undertake the RN Brigade Course, lasting for some 16 weeks. The first 10 weeks are taken at the School of Infantry at Catterick, where they undergo the All Arms infantry Course. They then move on to the Security School at Faslane on the Clyde. There they are instructed in the arts of defending establishments from infiltration or attack by members of the Royal Marines. Those who then are selected for service in the light armoured Companies are sent to RAAF Honnington in Suffolk. There they are trained alongside members of the RAAF Regiment in the Field Squadron role. Watermanship training is stressed for those in other streams, especially the use of small boats both for boarding missions and patrolling the approaches to harbours. In addition some of the more experienced members of the Brigade are trained as divers, to help maintain the sub-surface security of port areas.
Members of the RN Brigade, especially those in Hawke Company, have the opportunity to undertake Parachute and Commando training in the UK or other similar courses in the colonies. The RN Brigade rarely runs its own courses but has access to those run by all the services. The aim of the training is to produced well trained infantry soldiers with a specialisation in the defence of static targets. Or in the defence of forward deployed air squadrons. RN Brigade personnel serving with Naval Parties onboard RACSN warships are given extra training for this role.
Operations in the RN Brigade normally fall into three categories. The first is with the Defence Companies in protection of RACSN Bases, the second with Light Armoured Companies in protecting Fleet Aerospace Arm squadrons operating planetside and the last is in providing manpower for Naval Parties
Defence companies are roled to protect planetside assets of the Royal Anglian Confederation Space Navy including the Ministry of Defence Guard Force. RN Brigade units have responsibility for all other bases and in protecting the routine movements of high value ordnance within the NAC. In normal operations the RN Brigade will be responsible for providing an armed quick reaction force to back up civilian MoDGF personnel. However in times of tension RN Brigade presence will be stepped up and take the lead whilst RM Commando elements will be brought in to support the RN Brigade.
Defence companies are trained to counter intrusion by a range of threats from civilian protesters to the media, guerrillas to special forces all the way to a full conventional attack. Defence companies can also be forward deployed should the RACSN need to seize operating bases and defence companies would be brought in to secure these facilities in conjunction with the assault troops. Hawke Company has been specifically trained for this role and has nearly all its personnel are commando trained.
Generally however operations in defence companies are often quite dull (although sailors with families appreciate the stability of such a posting) and these units have been plagued with manpower retention problems. To make good this difficulty the RACSN has recently introduced a policy of cross posting to other branches of the Service. Additionally members of the defence companies are usually first in the queue to fill vacancies in Naval Parties. Additionally sailors in these units have plenty of access to RACSN facilities and many are key members of services sporting teams.
The light armoured companies are generally found in the 3rd Battalion and with one company in the off-world 4th Battalion. These companies have the same general organisation and role as the RAAF Regiment Field Squadrons. Namely in the protection of forward deployed air squadrons operating close to enemy ground units. These units train and operate closely with the RAAF Regt especially since the advent of Joint Tactical Air Groups (JTAG) which see Fleet Aerospace Arm and Strike Command operating alongside each other.
Light armoured units are primarily concerned with ground defence of the squadrons but also are involved in provision of short range air defence. These formations are equipped with light AFV's that are air portable by either conventional or tilt-rotor aircraft. The last role the RN Brigade is involved in is the provision of personnel for Naval Parties deployed on RACSN warships and RFA auxiliaries. Originally this was entirely a Royal Marine role but when that Corps became involved in colonial defence it felt unable to provide enough manpower to an expanding fleet and the RN Brigade took on the role.
RN Brigade sailors with Naval Parties are routinely responsible for the defence of the ship in spaceport/orbit, weapons and fitness training for the crew and in providing boarding parties for blockade or patrol duties. (These units are not special forces and other units are tasked for counter-terrorism operations.) However boarding operations; during blockades, enforcing sanctions or upholding regulations are conducted with remarkable frequency. These can utilise the ship's aerospace assets or RN Brigade manned small ships.
Naval parties are also sometimes called upon to operate planetside for a variety of reasons, from ceremonial, to humanitarian, to combat operations.
It should be noted that RN Brigade personnel often provide back-up for the Shore Patrol in many ports and are quite used to having to subdue drunken matelots. Consequently the RN Brigade are not always well liked by other parts of the Senior Service. Lastly the RN Brigade's companies are capable as acting as conventional infantrymen. They have been called upon to do this on occasions, usually supplementing the army on peace support operations. As befits an organisation skilled in point defence they often guard key points and high value units. For instance Churchill Company served with the peacekeepers on Toldlheim, originally to protect the HQ area but later it undertook its own patrolling and hearts and minds programme.
The Brigade consists of twelve independent companies (named for RN heroes), organised for administrative purposes into four battalions. Neither battalions or the Brigade itself is a fighting organisation with company being the standard operating unit. The whole Brigade is commanded by a Commodore, RN, whilst the battalions are led by a Commander, RN.
St. Vincent Company
The RN Brigade is equipped with standard NAC Army equipment and weaponry. They can be distinguished by their RN berets and 'RN Brigade' flash worn on the shoulder, the RN Bde patch is normally worn on the left arm and on the right side of the helmet. It is not uncommon for individual company insignia to be worn on the left shoulder.
One quirk is the wearing of RN rank insignia on the left arm and equivalent army insignia on the right. This is supposedly due to the inability of other services to note the actual rank of RN Brigade personnel. At all times except for tactical exercises a white lanyard is worn around the left shoulder.
Normal RN dress uniforms are worn when required. The naval cap is worn with a 'Royal Naval Brigade' tally.