NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group Two (ESG 2), and Commander, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (2nd MEB) successfully completed Bold Alligator 2011, Dec. 16.
The seven-day exercise, the largest joint fleet synthetic amphibious exercise in the last 10 years,
brought the Navy and Marine Corps back to their amphibious roots.
The blue-green team has historically stood side-by-side conducting large-scale amphibious operations, but almost 10 years of land-locked wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has resulted with fewer opportunities for amphibious Marines and Sailors to gain experience in an integrated environment.
"Bold Alligator 2011 allowed the Navy-Marine Corps team to focus on cooperation and interoperability while refining current amphibious doctrine in regard to best practices and effectiveness," said Rear Adm. Kevin Scott, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 2. "The value of this to future operations is immeasurable."
The complex scenario the team was dealt included an amphibious landing, defense against an invading force and the safe evacuation of non-combatants. Running the exercise in a simulated environment allowed planners to inject a number of obstacles and a level of complexity that may not have been possible in an underway environment.
"The advantage of a simulated exercise is that it affords us an opportunity to tailor the situation to test the many different aspects of an operation such as weather, opposing forces, actions by opposing forces, terrain, et cetera that we can't do in a live exercise," said Scott.
The notional force consisted of more than 11,000 Sailors and Marines and included 20 ships and specialized units.
Bold Alligator 2011 is the first of many planned Bold Alligator exercises; the next one being a live exercise scheduled for February 2012.
"This simulated exercise has been invaluable for getting an assessment of our current capabilities," said Brig. Gen. Chris Owens, the commanding general of 2nd MEB. "We will use this experience to shape our next exercise where we will apply what we've learned and test solutions to current challenges in a live training environment."
Bold Alligator was also about introducing new equipment and technology into the amphibious arena. Information, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment, including unmanned aerial and surface vessels were used in the simulated environment to provide exercise participants with enhanced warfighting capabilities.
Bold Alligator participants included: ESG 2, 2nd MEB, 6th Marine Regiment, Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 29, Combat Logistics Regiment (CLR) 25, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 6, PHIBRON 8, Tactical Air Control Group (TACGRU) 1, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 21, TACRON 22, Commander Naval Beach Group (CNBG) 2, Beach Master Unit (BMU) 2, Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 2, Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 4, USS Bataan (LHD 5) and Iwo Jima (LHD 7).
Response cells with supporting roles included: 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 included: 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 & Mayport, Marine Air Ground; 2d MEB Simulation Center, and the Marine Air Ground Task Force Staff Training Program.
For more news from USS Bataan (LHD 5), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd5/.