NAVY, MARINE CORPS RE-EMPHASIZE AMPHIBIOUS WARFARE CAPABILITIES
By OTTO KREISHER, Special Correspondent
The Navy and Marine Corps kicked off the drive to revi- talize their amphibious
warfare capabilities in a big way last
month, assembling more than two-dozen ships, more than 120 fixed-and rotary-wing aircraft and about
17,000 personnel for a complex
exercise off the East Coast.
The exercise, Bold Alligator 2012
(BA12), was the largest and most
intricate amphibious maneuver in
more than a decade and was intended to be the beginning of a series of
such operations to restore a partnership that is essential to conducting
what the two services consider one
of their core capabilities.
The two-week drill, which involved real and simulated forces in the air, on land, and on and below the
surface of the Atlantic, was designed to get Marines
back to sea after 10 years of sustained ground combat
in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But its primary focus was to enable Navy and
Marine Corps commanders and their staffs to regain
their mastery of the myriad details of launching and
supporting assault forces ashore.
“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,” said Adm. John C. Harvey Jr., who
directed the effort that led to Bold Alligator.
“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,” the Fleet Forces com-
Many Moving Parts
Bold Alligator 2012 involved real and simulated forces in the air, on
land, and on and below the surface of the Atlantic.
; The Navy provided 10 amphibious ships, USS Enterprise, at least
10 surface combatants, two submarines and an array of supporting
minehunting, logistics and Maritime Prepositioning Force ships.
; 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade supplied the assault force of
about 10,000 Marines and Sailors.
; For combat forces, France provided its big-deck amphib,
Mistral, a surface combatant and 300 Marines; Canada supplied two
minehunting ships; and Great Britain and the Netherlands contributed Royal Marines.
mander told a Jan. 31 Defense Writers Group breakfast
in Washington. “That part of this education, I think,
will be the greatest benefit to this exercise.”
Lt. Gen. Dennis J. Hejlik, Harvey’s partner in shaping
BA12, said that when they started studying the idea in
2008, “we found we had lost a lot of knowledge on what
we had to do … how to operate an ATF [amphibious
task force] at sea, how to develop a landing plan, how to
sustain a force ashore.
“We have to have a totally integrated naval battle,”
the Marine Forces Command leader added. “Bold
Alligator is first and foremost a learning experience for
the Navy-Marine Corps force.”
Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, chief of naval opera-
tions (CNO), made the same point.
“I believe we have a polarity of senior officers who
don’t understand the details of amphibious operations.
We don’t have the officers with the kinds of experience
Marines assigned to Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, participate in a mass casualty exercise in Norfolk, Va., Jan. 31 as part of Bold Alligator 2012, a two-week exercise involving
the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard and representatives from 11 allied nations.