Sunday, December 12, 2010

Navy, Marine Corps Begin Bold Alligator 2011

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 2 and Commander, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB), in coordination with ships assigned to the U.S. 2nd Fleet, will begin Bold Alligator 2011 Dec. 11, commencing the largest joint fleet simulated amphibious exercise in the last 10 years.

Bold Alligator is designed to revitalize the fundamental roles of the Navy and Marine Corps team as "fighters from the sea" and will focus on conducting major amphibious operations simultaneously with a non-combatant evacuation exercise.

"The nature of amphibious forces is that we're extremely flexible and can be specifically tailored to any mission at any time," said Rear Adm. Kevin Scott, commander of ESG 2. "Bold Alligator 2011 represents the ongoing efforts in meeting the challenges of future warfare conflicts, overseas contingency operations and homeland defense, so we remain the world's premier amphibious force."

Bold Alligator 2011 is the first installment in what will be regularly scheduled large amphibious exercises. The next scheduled event is a live exercise scheduled for February 2012.

By conducting this year's exercise synthetically in Norfolk from two multipurpose amphibious assault ships — USS Bataan (LHD 5) and USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) — and multiple simulation centers, planners can provide operational and tactical training in a realistic environment without the cost of putting ships, Sailors and Marines to sea, said Scott.

The exercise will focus on the fundamental aspects and roles of amphibious operations to improve amphibious force readiness and proficiency for executing the six core capabilities of the Maritime Strategy – forward presence, deterrence, sea control, power projection, maritime security and humanitarian assistance/disaster response.

"The scenario for the exercise will include a forcible entry operation conducted to enable a non-combatant evacuation (NEO) in the midst of a violent sectarian conflict," said Brig. Gen. Chris Owens, the commanding general of 2nd MEB. "This complex but realistic mission requires the ability to respond rapidly, project a credible force ashore and organize and execute the evacuation of thousands of non-combatants. In many cases, these capabilities can only be provided by amphibious forces."

The exercise includes a total of 29 participating commands, including eight ships, 14 ESG/2nd MEB reporting units and seven training centers. While only about 500 Sailors and Marines will take part in the exercise, the scenarios are built for more than 10,000 notional forces.

Bold Alligator participants include: ESG 2, 2nd MEB, 6th Marine Regiment, Marine Aircraft Group 29, Combat Logistics Regiment 25, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 6, PHIBRON 8, Tactical Air Control Group 1, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 21, TACRON 22, Commander Naval Beach Group 2, Beach Master Unit 2, Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 2, ACU 4, Bataan and Iwo Jima.

Response cells with supporting roles include: USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), USS Ashland (LSD 48), USS Anzio (CG 68), USS Cole (DDG 67) and USS Elrod (FFG 55).

Training centers include: Commander Strike Force Training Atlantic Norfolk, Tactical Training Group, Atlantic Dam Neck, Expeditionary Warfare Training Group Atlantic, Commander Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, Commander Afloat Training Group Norfolk and Mayport and 2nd MEB Simulation Center.