USA — Marines, Navy to Conduct Synthetic Amphibious Exercise

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2010 — For near­ly a decade the Marines have been heav­i­ly involved in land-locked bat­tles in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, the Marine Corps’ II Marine Expe­di­tionary Force is team­ing up with the U.S. Navy’s Sec­ond Fleet for Exer­cise Bold Alli­ga­tor 2011, a syn­thet­ic train­ing exer­cise that’ll test the Marines’ famed amphibi­ous capa­bil­i­ties.
Com­man­der, Expe­di­tionary Strike Group Two, and Com­man­der, 2nd Marine Expe­di­tionary Brigade in coor­di­na­tion with ships assigned to the U.S. Navy’s Sec­ond Fleet will con­duct a joint large-scale fleet syn­thet­ic amphibi­ous exer­cise Dec. 11–17, which will con­cen­trate on the fun­da­men­tal roles as “fight­ers from the sea.”

The syn­thet­ic exer­cise, which Owens says will “make exten­sive use of mod­el­ing and sim­u­la­tion in an effort to sim­u­late weath­er, bat­tle­field con­di­tions, and force-on- force oppo­si­tion,” will focus on the com­mand ele­ment in order to repli­cate live com­bat sit­u­a­tions. Exer­cise Bold Alli­ga­tor 2011 also serves as a test run for a planned live exer­cise in 2012.

“It’s the first brigade-lev­el amphibi­ous exer­cise on the East Coast in near­ly ten years, but it’s also a first step in our revi­tal­iza­tion of our amphibi­ous pro­fi­cien­cy,” Brig. Gen. Christo­pher Owens, deputy com­mand­ing gen­er­al, 2nd Marine Expe­di­tionary Force, Marine, said dur­ing a “DoDLive” blog­gers round­table Dec. 2.

“Dur­ing the exer­cise, we plan to refine our cur­rent con­cepts involv­ing sea-bas­ing, forcible-entry oper­a­tions, and com­mand-and-con­trol,” because “so much of what the U.S. does, in terms of inter­na­tion­al secu­ri­ty, relies on amphibi­ous access to areas of con­flict,” he explained.

Owens allud­ed to Navy assault amphibi­ous ships like USS Iwo Jima, USS Tarawa, and USS Inchon as to how amphibi­ous oper­a­tions have been per­ceived, but was quick to point out that not all amphibi­ous oper­a­tions are assaults. In fact, of the 100 amphibi­ous oper­a­tions that have tak­en place in the last 20 years, many were non-com­bat sit­u­a­tions like dis­as­ter response, non­com­bat­ant evac­u­a­tions, and human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance.

Although numer­ous mil­i­tary ana­lysts have thought amphibi­ous oper­a­tions to be obso­lete, time and again they have proven their worth in a vari­ety of com­bat sit­u­a­tions — includ­ing pos­si­ble pre-emp­tive action. This is why plan­ners for the exer­cise are work­ing to refine and emerg­ing amphibi­ous con­cepts and improve amphibi­ous oper­a­tions over­all. “We do have to find a way to keep our amphibi­ous capa­bil­i­ty and pro­fi­cien­cy, and keep it rel­e­vant to the types of oper­a­tions that we are going to be called upon to pro­vide,” said Owens. “I think [Defense] Sec­re­tary [Robert M.] Gates is chal­leng­ing us to make sure that we remain rel­e­vant and ready,” he con­tin­ued.

Owens believes that the close link between the Marines and the Navy is the back­bone of suc­cess­ful amphibi­ous oper­a­tions.

“What the Marine Corps pro­vides that is unique is that amphibi­ous capa­bil­i­ty that we pro­vide in con­junc­tion with our Navy part­ners,” he explained. “It is only through that link — that inex­tri­ca­ble link between us and the Navy — that pro­vides that unique capa­bil­i­ty.”

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

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