“Live play and having Marines on ships and people
actually doing stuff is a huge benefit” as opposed to
only training synthetically, Titterton said.
The ability to train and talk to each other in the
same time zone — without, say, the five-hour difference across the Atlantic — did not go unappreciated.
Operating and “fighting” together on ships at sea
forged relationships at senior levels.
“The hidden benefit of exercising together is know-
ing everybody who comes to the party,” he said. “If
anything happens for real, you’ve already done the first
step of knowing somebody.”
While more countries participated, getting allied part-
ners to send a ship or submarine or infantry unit to join
the training coalition can be tough. Geography and dis-
tance are hindrances for allies that don’t often deploy ships
or troops far from home. Better planning could help.
“The U.S. is used to crossing an ocean to get any-
where,” Titterton said. “The allies very often are a lot
more pressured and have to seek approval to come
here. So the more notice they get, the more chances of
having more coalition attending.”
Communication problems challenge many exercises.
During Bold Alligator, it was better but still lags behind
in supporting amphibious C5I (command, control,
communications, computers, collaboration and intelli-
gence), Coffman said. Interoperability is made harder
by lack of standardization and differences in systems.
“We tried for CENTRIXS [Combined Enterprise
Regional Information Exchange System] as the pri-
mary means of communication,” he said, but “interop-
erability and communication continue to be a problem
worldwide when working with partners.”
It took “a lot of workarounds” like scrambling for
antennae to tackle problems that surfaced.
“CENTRIXS is where we’re at right now ... to get all
coalition partners up,” he said. “But we’re not there.
There are never enough suites. You don’t practice it
enough. So it’s problematic.
“This exercise, like all the others, had a lot of
workarounds to get around that. It’s bigger than just
CENTRIXS, too, it’s link architecture, which is the
Navy’s specialty of coming from the sea,” Coffman
said. “Is everybody on the right tactical link, so that
you’re seeing the common air and surface picture? No,
we’re not there.”
Titterton said “an all-hands effort” is under way to
improve interoperability among coalition partners. ;
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 52 SEAPOWER / APRIL 2015
Royal Netherlands Korps Mariniers wait for orders to assault a combat town at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Nov.
7 during a Bold Alligator 2014 training event. Nineteen countries joined in the exercise, which was designed to improve
U.S. and allied forces response to a myriad of different crises.