Strength in Unity
Sailors and Marines and Alligator Dagger
The roar of LCACs approach the desert beaches of Djibouti, Africa. Moments later dozens of Marines and equipment exit and scramble over sand and rocks away from the beach.
Off the coast the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) is busy. Almost in a choreographed dance, men and women hustle about the flight deck, fueling aircraft, removing chocks and chains as MV-22 Ospreys and CH-53 Super Stallions gear up for launch to carry Marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit to the beach.
This isn't a battle, but it's keeping Sailors and Marines' skills sharp. This is Exercise Alligator Dagger.
"Exercise Alligator Dagger was an excellent opportunity to conduct a full-mission profile involving the entire Marine Air-Ground Task Force spread across all three ships of the ARG," said Col. Clay C. Tipton, 11th MEU commanding officer. "The ability to maneuver from the sea and place Marines on the enemy's doorstep in the middle of the night ready to break things is a valuable skill set."
Led by Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, the two-week exercise enabled the Marines and Sailors of the MKI ARG and 11th MEU to rehearse complex amphibious operations and conduct combat sustainment training to remain ready for crisis response and contingency operations throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
Marines and Sailors of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group/11th Marine Expeditionary Unit concluded Exercise Alligator Dagger with a nighttime helo-borne raid in Djibouti, Dec. 21, 2016.