Dawn Blitz 2013: Training for Strength 
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Donald Walton, Expeditionary Strike Group Three Public Affairs  
SAN DIEGO - Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 3 and 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade (1st MEB) began the synthetic phase amphibious exercise Dawn Blitz 2013 (DB 13) aboard amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) Jan. 28.

DB 13 is a live and synthetic amphibious exercise that will focus on the Amphibious Task Force conducting the planning and execution of Naval Task Force operations in a non-permissive environment and a large scale amphibious assault.

The synthetic exercise is taking place while ships are pierside; the at-sea piece will take place in June. DB 13 will allow commanders the ability to conduct limited future amphibious concepts experimentation both pierside and while underway.

"The Dawn Blitz exercise is a continuation of an Amphibious Task Force (ATF)/ MEB size operation that has its roots in Kernel Blitz that started in the 1990s and ended in 2001," said ESG 3 Operations Officer Capt. Paul Gilmartin. "And Dawn Blitz 2013 is 3rd in the series of Dawn Blitz exercises that started in 2010, to build the Commander Amphibious Task Force (CATF) and Commander Landing Force (CLF) relationship between ESG 3 and 1st MEB."

The exercise will consist of a series of events resulting in the deployment of U.S. and allied forces against a hypothetical adversary. A major objective of DB 13 is to provide a realistic context for the employment of military forces in support of U.S. policy. One of the events portrays an MEB-sized Marine Air-Ground Task Force operating as part of a combined amphibious task force in an operational environment that reflects challenges that the U.S. could face.

This scenario allows for the integration of Combined Forces Maritime Component Command, Combined Forces Air Component Command, Joint Special Operations Task Force, and eventually, Combined Forces Land Component Command forces as well as allied forces as participants and observers.

"My concern is for the training audiences (1st MEB and ESG 3) to be effective in future combat operations. It is essential to work together so we fully develop the blue-green team," said Maj. George Hasseltine, 1st MEB exercise design planner. "Dawn Blitz provides one of the first exercises combining 1st MEB and ESG 3 staffs together to execute highly complex planning for potential amphibious and expeditionary operations on a large scale."

The purpose of DB 13 is to revitalize Navy/Marine Corps amphibious expeditionary tactics, techniques and procedures, and reinvigorate its culture of conducting combined Navy/Marine Corps operations from the sea as well as to enhance Naval relationships through a common amphibious exercise, with training that focuses on today's fight with today's forces.

The ESG 3/1st MEB team is viewing DB 13 as an opportunity to generate, develop, and analyze operational concepts in order to shape future requirements and inform our naval strategy and operational doctrine.

"Both Bold Alligator and Dawn Blitz are designed around the same principles of ATF and MEB sized operations," said Gilmartin. "The difference between the two is Dawn Blitz 2013 is focusing on tactical level execution, and not as much at the operation level as we saw in Bold Alligator."

While Navy/Marine Corps amphibious training is routinely conducted, it regularly occurs at the Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) levels. DB 13 increases the scope by conducting it at the ESG and MEB levels, and while Dawn Blitz exercises were first held only a few years ago, the Navy/Marine Corps team concept behind them is not new and is deeply rooted in U.S. naval service history.

"One of the best things we were able to do was an integrated planning and war game event with the MEB, back in October, that really kicked off the training process for ESG3 and 1st MEB," said Gilmartin. "And due to the normal routine jobs that we have as a staff, any opportunity to get together and plan at the higher level is really good at ESG/MEB staff, that's why the exercise continuum that ESG 3 and 1st MEB have established on the west coast is going to pay dividends in the future."

The Navy and Marine Corps enjoy a close working relationship, based on past tradition, present requirements and future necessity to project power ashore. The DB 13 exercise is part of an annual training plan that prepares Navy and Marine Corps forces to conduct selective offload and at-sea transfer of personnel and equipment from sealift platforms to amphibious ships, or directly to air and surface craft capable of ship-to-shore delivery.

"We are taking the 1st MEB staff and tying up with partners at ESG 3 and synchronizing the blue green team, so if called to execute operations in the future we know the names and faces and personalities to work with during day-to-day operations of this amphibious exercise," said Hasseltine.

DB 13 ensures the future ability to respond to any amphibious operation requirement smoothly and efficiently, while exploring the feasibility and implication of alternative operational plans and concepts.

Holding exercises such as DB 13 make the Navy and Marine Corps team operationally prepared at any time around the world.
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