Dutch command ship HNLMS Johan de Witt, a Royal
Netherlands Navy landing platform dock. It was a very
international task group, with de Witt, Danish Royal
Navy frigate HDMS Niels Jules, and the American transport dock USS Arlington and guided-missile destroyer
USS Laboon. Like integrated battle staffs, the force was
multinational: Dutch Marines with the Royal Netherlands Korps Mariniers’ 1 Marine Combat Group, a company of Spanish Marines, a company of British Royal
Marines, a Norwegian platoon and a company of
Canadian Soldiers, plus their battalion headquarters.
Close quarters and joint operations helped them to
quickly integrate at sea. Soldiers with the Canadian
Royal 22e Regiment, for example, earned their sea legs
while aboard the Dutch ship, where they dined, slept
and trained much like any mariner.
“In our case, we don’t have an amphibious ship, so
just being on the Johan de Witt, it’s very, very interesting
for us. We’ve been integrated with the crew, and we’ve
been conducting exercises on the ship,” Maj. Patrick
Chartrand said in a three-minute online video posted by
the Canadian Army. “There’s a lot of good lessons here.
The way we do the planning process and the different
type of equipment that we have does have an impact on
the way we do our operations and exercise.”
Bold Alligator is the type of exercise officials hope
will encourage more allies to participate.
“We are developing exercises in the Middle East and
Mediterranean and Africa that all call on this kind of
ever-changing mix of coalition partners. The dream
state is this naval coalition … the good guys around
the world that are responding to operations in crisis,”
And coalition training at sea is a growing business.
“We are trying to synchronize the global naval exer-
cise program, as we’ve got a number of great coalition
partners that are maturing their naval and amphibious
capabilities,” he said, noting some nations, such as
Brazil and Chile, “are regional and global players.”
RADM Cynthia M. Thebaud, ESG Two commander,
said integration benefited all participants.
They “leveraged each others’ strengths and compen-
sated for each others’ weaknesses,” Thebaud said in the
January-March issue of CHIPS, the Navy’s information
technology magazine. “We have to do more of this if we
are going to continue to do it well and do it right.”
Officials continue to pore over lessons learned from
the exercise, but a few things stand out.
Access to the vast U.S. offshore training ranges, as
available in Bold Alligator, is very important to allies.
“The huge advantage over here is
space. The training space available
… along the East Coast is quite significant. You can do a lot,” Titterton
said. “Trying to squeeze anything in
a field in Europe is quite hard.
“In a more confined space, you
have to take into account like
when a farmer wants to move his
cows or there’s traffic,” he said.
“Having space to train is impor-
tant, and that’s what you get when
you come to the states.”
Participating coalition forces get
“the freedom to exercise kinetically
with less restrictions than what
you may have at home,” Titterton
told Seapower. The benefits includ-
ing exercising “with a superpower
at the cutting edge of technology
[and] understanding how the
United States … will fight in the
future, and if you have to fight
with them, having that knowledge
is a vital enabler.”
The ability to drive ships,
launch boats and deploy troops in
live, real training at sea is invalu-
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / APRIL 2015
Soldiers with the Norwegian Telemark Battalion prepare to raid an urban facility during the annual multinational exercise Bold Alligator Nov. 7 on Marine
Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. Norwegian, British, Dutch and Canadian
troops engaged in street-to-street, house-to-house simulated combat against
enemy forces role-played by U.S. Marines.