U.S. FIFTH FLEET AREA OF OPERATIONS (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines from the America Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) completed the largest amphibious exercise in the region.
Alligator Dagger 2017 is an exercise in the international waters off the coast of Djibouti and in the vicinity of Djibouti and Arta Beach, Sept. 20.
Alligator Dagger 2017 began Sept. 4, and was a dedicated combat rehearsal led by Naval Amphibious Forces, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, in which combined Navy and Marine Corps units of the America ARG and embarked 15th MEU were able to train and employ integrated capabilities available to U.S. Central Command both afloat and ashore.
The America ARG, under the tactical control of Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 3, is comprised of amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), amphibious transport dock USS San Diego (LPD 22), and amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) was joined by the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Howard (DDG 83) and USS Kidd (DDG 100) and expeditionary sea base USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3).
"With the addition of Howard, Kidd and Puller we were able to command and control forces using the composite warfare commander construct in order to provide defensive depth in a contested environment using deception, targeting, and destroy capabilities as the Marines went ashore," said Capt. Rome Ruiz, commander, PHIBRON 3. "By enhancing our tactical capabilities in maritime and littoral warfare, the ARG/MEU team was able to demonstrate the added strength of our combat potential."
By integrating with other classes of naval ships, the ARG had the unique opportunity to rehearse across the full spectrum of warfare with an enhanced set of capabilities. The combat rehearsals included not only full mission amphibious warfare profiles, but also mine warfare operations, air defense and live fire gunnery exercises, anti-submarine warfare, a photo exercise and tactical ship maneuverings.
"Howard exercised tactical control of ARG-embarked U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps aircraft while providing simulated area and high value unit defense against surface and airborne threats," said Cmdr. Andrew Bucher, Howard's executive officer. "These operations demonstrated that the ARG was capable of conducting amphibious operations in a potentially contested environment, and should encourage regional partners that U.S. naval forces are responsive and capable."
The Sailors also had the opportunity to improve their skills in coordinated maneuverings both navigationally and tactically.
"Conducting electromagnetic warfare maneuvering greatly enhanced our level of knowledge in operating with the different classes of ships while exercising our own capabilities," said Lt. William Moultrie, information warfare officer, PHIBRON 3. "While the ARG is primarily known as an amphibious task force, our naval expertise provides a wide range of influence for our warfare commanders."
Also deployed as part of the ARG/MEU team are the "Wildcards" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23, and detachments from Assault Craft Unit 5, Naval Beach Group 1, Beachmaster Unit 1, Fleet Surgical Team 1 and Tactical Air Control Squadron 11.
The ARG and 15th MEU provide senior U.S. military leadership and partners a flexible force that can rapidly respond to contingencies and crises within a region. With ships, aircraft, troops and logistical equipment, the ARG/MEU is a self-contained and self-sustained task force capable of conducting a wide range of military operations including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse comprises 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.
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