U.S. Coast Guard transportable port security boats attached to Port Security
Unit 308 and Riverine command boats from Riverine Squadron 2 practice
maneuvers together in the Intracoastal Waterway in North Carolina Feb. 2
during Bold Alligator 2012.
that we need,” he told reporters Feb. 4 on the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp, the flagship for BA12.
To correct those deficiencies, Greenert said he and
Gen. James F. Amos, now the Marine Corps commandant, while in lower positions in 2008 crafted a document that detailed amphibious operations. But because
the Marines were so heavily engaged in Iraq and gearing up in Afghanistan, they could not implement it.
“This is the culmination of that, to get back to sea
with the Marine Corps,” the CNO said.
BA12, which ran from Jan. 30 to Feb. 13, involved
three main commands and a host of supporting units.
The primary units were Expeditionary Strike Group
2 (ESG 2), commanded by Rear Adm. Kevin D. Scott;
2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (2nd MEB), led by
Brig. Gen. Christopher S. Owens; and the Enterprise
Carrier Strike Group (CSG), under Rear Adm. Walter
E. Carter Jr., with Vice Adm. David H. Buss, Harvey’s
deputy, as overall commander.
The Navy provided 10 amphibious ships, including
four “big-deck” assault ships, the aircraft carrier USS
Enterprise, at least 10 surface combatants, two submarines and an array of supporting minehunting,
logistics and Maritime Prepositioning Force ships.
The MEB supplied the assault force of about 10,000
Marines and Sailors, real and simulated, from Regimental Combat Team Two, Combat Logistics Regiment
25, Marine Air Group 29 and the 24th Marine
Expeditionary Unit (MEU).
Naval Expeditionary Combat Command was a
major supporting element, providing Seabees, River -
ines, civil affairs, intelligence exploitation, beach master and cargo-handling units.
That array of moving parts is indicative of the complexity of a large-scale amphibious operation.
The U.S. Coast Guard Port Security Unit 308, based in Kiln, Miss.,
took part as well to provide its
insight and expertise into port
protection. The Coast Guard provided security for aids-to-navigation,
protected against hazards around
the port, and contributed an additional defensive presence in waterways and near Forward Operating
“We were able to learn a lot from
the other [security] units as they
were able to learn from us in terms
of what our mission is and how we
complete our mission. It will help
for future operations to have that
basis of knowledge of those units
and what they bring to the table,” said Coast Guard
Landside Security Officer Lt. Danny Welch.
And the scope of BA12 was widened by the participation of combat units, staff officers and observers from 11
allied nations, a reflection of the growing importance of
coalitions to deal with security, humanitarian relief and
disaster assistance challenges.
For the 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.
Wasp was awash with officers from those countries
and others, there to study or to help plan the exercise.
They included Lt. Cmdr. George Pastoor of the Royal
Netherlands Navy, who was the chief planner.
Shaping the Scenario
Although the scenario for BA12 was not aimed at any specific threat, it clearly was shaped by real-world conditions.
In the scenario, the amphibious operation was triggered by an appeal from a friendly nation, Amber,
which was invaded by its southern neighbor, Garnet. A
neutral nation to the north, Amberland, agreed to
allow coalition forces to come ashore to help Amber.
But to get the amphibious force close enough to launch
the landing force, the task force had to pass through a
simulated long, narrow strait that was contested by Garnet
with sea mines and swarming fast-attack boats. Those are
the kinds of threats posed by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz.
And Amberland was infested by a terrorist cell that
had land-based anti-ship missiles, such as those used
by Hezbollah to damage an Israeli corvette during the
2006 conflict in Lebanon.