The coalition force that took to the sea last fall for Bold Alligator injected a strong interna- tional flavor into the amphibious exercise —
and it was not just the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps in
Nineteen countries in all joined in the 2014 iteration of Bold Alligator, a significant jump from the eight
who participated in 2012. More than 18,000 Marines,
Sailors and Soldiers joined in the two-week exercise,
held from Oct. 29 to Nov. 10.
The training takes on greater importance as the
Marine Corps winds down its operational focus on
Afghanistan and reacquaints itself with the seagoing
Navy. Paralleling that transition is the growing interest
from U.S. allies and partners to join in coalition-level
training and operations. Officials say that despite
budget pressure and fewer available platforms, it is
important those engagements continue.
“The coalition part, I think, is fundamental. We are
never going to do it another way,” said BGen David W.
Coffman, deputy commander of Marine Corps Forces
Command in Norfolk, Va. “We are always going to do
joint, combined, interagency style
— and that includes naval
warfighting, where it is very, very
“Our focus on the coalition was
to make sure that they had play
and they were working and they
were being utilized effectively,
based on their capabilities and lim-
itations,” Coffman told Seapower.
The result “was a good and fair
representation of what a naval
force will look like … and what we
can produce when we show up.”
Royal Navy Commodore CDR
Phillip Titterton sees growing
interest from more nations wanting
to operate and fight from the sea,
and they want to train to operate together.
“Ironically, as military structures shrink, the need to
work together actually increases,” said Titterton,
deputy director of the Combined Joint Operations
from the Sea Centre of Excellence, a NATO-accredited
center that helps train and conduct combined mar-itime-based joint operations with U.S. Fleet Forces. “I
think Bold Alligator is a growing industry.”
The annual exercise series, run by U.S. Fleet Forces
Command and Marine Corps Forces Command, aims
to build large-scale naval amphibious competencies.
Each year, they vary the combination of live and synthetic training and integration of naval and military
forces. Bold Alligator is a significant annual exercise
for Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) Two and 2nd
Marine Expeditionary Brigade.
In 2014, two of the three command ships leading
the coalition force’s three amphibious task groups were
American — amphibious assault ships USS Kearsarge
and USS Iwo Jima — each led by their commodore.
The other task group? The Netherlands Maritime
Force Battle Staff led the third task group from the
Engaging, interacting with allies during Bold Alligator
By GIDGET FUENTES, Special Correspondent
The sea services interacted with more naval allies at sea during
last year’s Bold Alligator amphibious crisis-response exercise, a
trend commanders hope continues.
; Offshore ranges enabled coalition naval forces to train for real-world operations and operate in more complex, blue-water environments than available at home.
; Still needed: Technology that can ensure all participants,
regardless of military capability, can connect and communicate at
sea seamlessly so they can operate and fight together.
; Expect more multinational exercising across the globe, as
schedules, deployments and operations permit.