Bold Alligator’ Helps to Sustain Amphibious Operations

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2012 — As the Navy and Marine Corps con­tin­ue “Bold Alli­ga­tor,” their largest joint, multi­na­tion­al amphibi­ous assault exer­cise in 10 years, it is impor­tant that both ser­vices to sus­tain amphibi­ous oper­a­tions, the com­man­der of U.S. Fleet Forces Com­mand said today.

“It’s enor­mous­ly impor­tant for the Navy to start learn­ing an awful lot about Marine Corps oper­a­tions and get­ting a land­ing force ashore, and how that land force oper­ates,” Navy Adm. John C. Har­vey Jr. said at a Defense Writ­ers Group break­fast.

“And it’s enor­mous­ly impor­tant for the Marine forces to under­stand what it took to get the naval force to the posi­tion where you could land the assault forces and sus­tain those assault forces,” he added. “That part of this edu­ca­tion, I think, will be the great­est ben­e­fit to this exer­cise.”

Bold Alli­ga­tor 2012 began Jan. 30 and is sched­uled to run through until Feb. 12, on and off the coasts of Vir­ginia, North Car­oli­na and Flori­da. The exercise’s intent is to revi­tal­ize Navy and Marine Corps amphibi­ous expe­di­tionary tac­tics, tech­niques and pro­ce­dures, and rein­vig­o­rate its cul­ture of con­duct­ing com­bined Navy and Marine Corps oper­a­tions from the sea, a Navy state­ment said.

Although Bold Alli­ga­tor is the largest exer­cise of the past decade, Marines nev­er com­plete­ly left the seas, Lt. Gen. Den­nis J. Hej­lik, com­man­der of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Com­mand, empha­sized.

“We have the sev­en [Marine Expe­di­tionary Units] out there,” he said. “So we have a per­cent­age of Marine Corps offi­cers and Marine enlist­ed that have always been out there.”

Har­vey said these types of exer­cis­es test com­man­ders and their staffs in prepa­ra­tion for tough real-world sce­nar­ios.

“Com­man­ders are going to make deci­sions based on the kinds of sit­u­a­tions they are con­front­ed with,” he said. “We’re going to test that commander’s abil­i­ty to make these deci­sions and appor­tion those forces. The biggest stress for any com­man­der is the appor­tion­ment of the forces under his com­mand for the mul­ti­tude of tasks they’ve been giv­en.”

Har­vey and Hej­lik said the naval exer­cise is not based on cur­rent events in the Per­sian Gulf, but is “cer­tain­ly informed by recent his­to­ry.”

“This exer­cise deals with large num­bers of small-boat threats, irreg­u­lar threats, not easy to iden­ti­fy in the com­plex bat­tle space, … which could be used to describe just about the entire Per­sian Gulf,” Har­vey not­ed. The exer­cise deals with both reg­u­lar and irreg­u­lar threats, as well as with shore-based cruise mis­siles, the admi­ral said.

“When we con­struct­ed the sce­nario, we put it against what we called a mod­er­ate force, or a medi­um force with mod­er­ate abil­i­ty, who denies access into the­ater and actu­al­ly on land,” Hej­lik said. “And we did that pur­pose­ly because of the force that we’re exer­cis­ing, … so it’s not pat­terned after any con­tin­gency plan­ning, if you will.”

Hej­lik also cit­ed work­ing with con­ven­tion­al and spe­cial oper­a­tions forces as an impor­tant objec­tive dur­ing Bold Alli­ga­tor.

Har­vey not­ed that Gen. James F. Amos, Marine Corps com­man­dant, refers to the Marine Corps as a “mid­dleweight” force.

“We can go high, we can go low, but are a mid­dleweight force that can strike with pow­er,” Har­vey said.

The admi­ral said he hopes the Navy and Marine Corps con­tin­ue exer­cis­es like Bold Alli­ga­tor to “keep that insti­tu­tion­al learn­ing going.”

“When did we bring it all togeth­er?” he asked, refer­ring pre­vi­ous train­ing. “When did we bring the parts togeth­er in a pur­pose­ful man­ner and chal­lenge our­selves to do what we are expect­ed to be able to do in 10 years?

“That’s real­ly what this is all about,” Har­vey added. “And I hope that we con­tin­ue that cycle.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)