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Kuwaiti Marines / Naval Commando

The Kuwaiti Marines are very poorly attested, and even the formal name of unit is unclear. The Kuwaiti Marines are authoritatively reported to have a strength of 800 marines. Strangely, it does not seem to be profiled in the Jane's Amphibious and Special Forces subscription service. Some sources assert that Kuwait has a naval commando unit that is trained and supervised by US Navy SEALs and SBT personnnel, but following the Gulf War, it is more common to see the Kuwaiti Marines training with US Marines than with commando units.

The Marines or Naval Commando are not to be confused with the 25th Commando Group (also known as the 25th Commando Brigade) which is under direct command of the Army headquarters. Kuwait had a 'Special Forces' prior to 1990, but it was really a CT unit, not SF in the Mmerican sense. Within this 500+ strong force was a CT element, a riot control unit and a VIP protection unit. This army special forces battalion (as it then was) suffered losses during the initial stages of the Iraqi invasion in 1990.

The really outstanding camopedia reports that "The Kuwaiti Marines were a very small, pre-invasion force, and wore their own camouflage pattern, a grey dominant version of the US designed six-color "chocolate chip" desert pattern. This design is very similar to that worn by the Saudi Marines during the same time period. Following 1991, this pattern fell into disuse."

Concurrently with Exercise Sea Soldier IV in mid-January, 1 3th MEU (SOC) moved into the Persian Gulf, having received a warning order to conduct a raid on Umm Al-Maradim Island off the Kuwaiti coast. To support this operation, Kuwaiti Marines were transferred to USS Okinawa to provide interpreter and EPW interrogation support as the MEU (SOC) moved toward the objective area. As an Iraqi radar and listening post, the island was thought to be occupied in company strength. Having rehearsed the raid during the preceding week, 13th MEU (SOC) assaulted the island on 29 January. For the Marines, however, the raid turned out to be anticlimactic. A Navy A-6, followed by Marine AH-1 helicopters overflew the island and reported it apparently abandoned. When riflemen from C Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines landed by helicopter a few hours later, they found no Iraqis. Quickly removing documents and equipment found there, they destroyed Iraqi heavy equipment that could not be removed and returned to the ATF ships. Many documents provided intelligence on the extent of Iraqi mining in the northern Persian Gulf. The raid demonstrated to the Iraqis the capabilities of the amphibious forces, reinforced the theater deception plan, and captured documents provided intelligence for amphibious operations planning.

During Operation Desert Storm, USS Midway reported on 09 February 1991 "Royal Saudi Naval Force (RSNF) ships in NAG [North Arabian Gulf] patrol areas ... escorting Wisconin and Kuwaiti barge Salnahil with 2 KU [Kuwaiti] fast ATK [attack] naval craft operating independently, Kuwaiti Marines reoccupied Warah Island." US SEAL special boats supported a contingent of Kuwaiti Marines during an operation on February 8-14, when the Kuwaitis seized Qaruh, Maradim, and Kubbar Islands. Eight special boat unit personnel and 32 Kuwaiti Marines also seized Qaruli Island on 8 February 1991, Maradim Island the next day, and Kubbar Island on 14 February - these operations were the first reclamation of Kuwaiti territory. NavCent forces confirmed that the Iraqis had abandoned Kubbar Island, when on 15 February 1991 Kuwaiti Marines, US Marines, and US SEALs searched it.

On 09 November 2008 Kuwaiti National Security Bureau (NSB) and military services successfully concluded six days of training that culminated in an exercise involving boarding, air defense, and gunnery drills on November 09 with NATO's Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2). In 2004, Kuwait became the first Gulf state to join NATO's Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, and this week's exercise signifies the first NATO-led training in the Gulf. Kuwaiti Marines practiced boarding the NATO Flagship FGS Karlsruhe.

On 12 October 2009 Marines assigned to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (22nd MEU), along with Marines from Kuwait and Pakistan, conduct an amphibious assault demonstration during exercise Bright Star 2009. The multinational exercise is designed to improve readiness, interoperability, and strengthen military and professional relationships among U.S., Egyptian and other coalition forces.

The Kuwait navy enhanceed its capability for amphibious operations when it two Murena-E (Project 12061) landing craft, air-cushion (LCAC) from Russia in 2010. The Murena-type air cushion landing boat is capable to carry either 2 armored personnel carriers or 2 amphibious tanks or 1 medium tank or 130 fully equipped marines. The deputy head of Russia’s Rosoboronexport arms trader Viktor Komardin who led the Russian delegation at the 2nd international naval show underway in Doha, said 30 March 2010 that the deliveries of the two hovercraft are part of this country’s debt to the oil-rich Gulf sheikhdom. Komardin added that the deal signaled a growing degree of mutual interest and confidence between Russia and the Persian Gulf states. "In 2009 we signed a delivery contract of two Murena-type landing boats on account of Russia's debt to Kuwait", specified Komardin. "At present, the document is under appropriate procedures in Kuwait and will be put in force soon". Komardin assumed that Kuwait would unlikely confine itself to only two boats of this class.

With the Kuwaiti colors in hand, a Kuwaiti Marine rushes to the center of Qaruh Island to fly the flag, 24 January 2011, during a reenactment of the events which took place 20 years earlier. Qaruh Island was the first piece of land liberated by Kuwait and U.S. forces and was the first action of Operation Desert Storm. The reenactment of the liberation of Qaruh Island kicks off a month of festivities marking 50 years of Kuwait’s independence and 20 years of Kuwait’s liberation from Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces. The Chief of Marine Corps, Major General Mohammed Al-Mulla, used the same brigade that took part in the Jan 25, 1991 liberation after five hours of battle between the coalition forces and Iraqi troops.

On 21 March 2011 Kuwaiti "marine forces" arrived in Bahrain to join the Peninsula Shield Forces. Kuwait, with a population that is nearly 50 percent Shi'ite, decided not to send troops to Bahrain to help quell the Shi'ite revolt. Instead, Kuwait has sent a naval force to patrol Bahrain's territorial waters. As late as October 2011 Kuwait had remained silent and it remained unclear whether its troops had been sent to Bahrain, as announced by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates whose forces were deployed on 16 March 2011.

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