NORFOLK (NNS) -- A British Royal Marine officer and a Royal Navy Netherlands officer embarked the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) Dec. 11, at Bold Alligator 2011's commencement.
Lt. Col. Hugh Mudford, a British Royal Marine with Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) based in Naples, Italy, and Lt. Cmdr. George Pastoor, a member of the Royal Netherlands Navy, will observe and contribute to the exercise.
Their impact is expected to come from their unique perspectives and amphibious knowledge they bring back to their commands and allied nations.
"I believe that anytime we do future operations, there is going to be a coalition with us, and constantly staying engaged with other nations helps us out so that when we go do real world operations; we understand each other better," said Col. Bradley Weisz, deputy commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 2. "I enjoy having them on board as part of the exercise because they have a lot of experience from a European and NATO perspective that sometimes we don't have."
Pastoor has been embedded with ESG 2 for a year and a half. He said the Royal Netherlands navy sends a number of officers to the U.K. and U.S. in an on-going effort to gain additional knowledge in the areas of amphibious and littoral operations and doctrines.
Having the two foreign officers take place in Bold Alligator is designed to help provide a seamless transition into future combined operations.
"The U.S. is doing their first large exercise in many years, so they are doing baby steps," said Pastoor. "This is an excellent opportunity for me and for the Dutch to learn as much information as possible on how to do amphibious exercises on a large scale like this, because we are a much smaller navy."
Although the exercise is simulated, it's designed to be realistic. It features a number of U.S. ships and forces conducting a forcible entry operation to enable a non-combatant evacuation (NEO) in the midst of a violent sectarian conflict. Weisz said it's a scenario that would likely include international partners.
"I'd like to think that with myself and [Pastoor], we can inject a multinational flavor," said Mudford. "I think it's realistic to say that the time that the U.S. will, not to say that they are not able to, operate completely alone in the future will be few and far between."
Weisz said both men have been exceptionally involved with future operations and have come up with great ideas on how to tackle some of the tactical problems.
"I am here to maintain and strengthen our links and understanding with major U.S. maritime combat assets," said Mudford. "To do that, it is extremely beneficial to come on exercises like this."
While aboard Bataan, both men have been welcomed as part of the crew.
"As a complete outsider, I have been made to feel extremely welcome by both the ship, ESG 2 staff and [2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade] staff," said Mudford. "[It] has made the experience enjoyable as well as professionally efficient."
Bold Alligator 2011 is the first installment in what will be regularly scheduled, large amphibious exercises. The next scheduled event is a live exercise in February 2012.
The exercise includes a total of 29 participating commands, including eight ships, 14 ESG/2nd MEB reporting units and seven training centers.
For more news from USS Bataan (LHD 5), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd5/.