Thursday, December 09, 2010

Navy, Marine Corps Prepare for Amphibious Training

By Ian Graham, Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON - For the past 10 years, the word "Marine" in the Marine Corps has seemed a misnomer: combat in Iraq and Afghanistan have left the majority of Marines land locked, with little or no experience in amphibious operations.

Naval leadership has taken note. The Navy and Marine Corps will begin exercises in the coming days that focus on amphibious combat training for sailors and Marines.

"Bold Alligator 2011 will be the first brigade-level joint amphibious exercise in the last 10 years. The exercise this week will strengthen and refine our fundamental expeditionary capabilities to project a sustained combat power ashore," said Rear Adm. Kevin Scott, commander of the Navy's Expeditionary Strike Group Two and embarked commander of the Amphibious Task Force for the exercise. Scott discussed the planned Dec. 11-17 training yesterday during a "DoDLive" Blogger's Roundtable.

Bold Alligator exercises will continue into the future, Scott said. Bold Alligator 2011 is simulated, he said, but still involves all of the critical Navy and Marine Corps leadership and components. The first live exercise is scheduled for February 2012.

The benefit of starting with a simulated exercise is the versatility simulation provides, Scott said. Simulated exercises also allow a framework to be built for future live exercises, he added.

"We can tailor the situation to test the many different aspects of an operation such as weather, opposing forces, actions by opposing forces, terrain, et cetera, and we can do this at substantially less cost," Scott said. "So we anticipate that we'll use this embedded exercise to build upon the live [exercise] that's going to take place approximately 13 months from now.

"And then, you know, my vision is we'll probably have several synthetic exercises between each live exercise," he continued, "to make sure that we capitalize on the assets when they become available."

In recent years, the military has deployed its amphibious forces to assist other nations in need, Scott said.

"Within the last 10 years, we've seen the need for a ready and capable amphibious force for such events as the Indian Ocean tsunami, the earthquake in Haiti and the flooding in Pakistan," he said. "As long as the majority of the world's populations and commerce reside along the coastlines and waterways of the world, there will always be a need for amphibious forces."

The Bold Alligator series will help the Navy and Marine Corps incorporate new technology, weapons systems and vehicles into their arsenal, Scott said. The idea, he added, is to have procedures and plans in place for any kind of mission -- combat, humanitarian aid, search and rescue or disaster response.

"You know, the nature of amphibious force is that we're extremely flexible and can be specifically tailored to any mission at any time. No one can bring more capability ashore rapidly and sustain it as our Navy-Marine Corps team can," Scott said. "Bold Alligator 2011 is a first step in revitalizing the fundamentals of amphibious operations and assuring the Navy-Marine Corps team is ready, responsive and resolute."