GULF OF ADEN - Marines and Sailors aboard the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) with the embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 3 rehearsed amphibious operations and combat sustainment in the vicinity of Djibouti during Alligator Dagger 2017 Sept. 4-20.
Alligator Dagger is a dedicated, unilateral 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 Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and embarked 15th MEU were able to train and employ integrated capabilities available to U.S. Central Command both afloat and ashore.
The exercise also involved the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) and amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22) of the America ARG, along with the expeditionary support base ship USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3), the newly commissioned afloat forward staying base variant of the mobile landing platforms. As additional support, the ARG also utilized the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Howard (DDG 83) and USS Kidd (DDG 100). Training with a wide range of ship types and classes during Alligator Dagger allowed the ARG to refine their maritime capabilities and preparing them for tactical requirements and future operations.
"As we entered the 5th Fleet area of operations we were well aware that we had to acclimate as an ARG/MEU team to both the environment in terms of weather and the threat," said Capt. Rome Ruiz, commander, PHIBRON 3. "We have a wide range of capabilities between our ships, aircraft, logistical equipment and personnel, which enables our blue-green team to handle multiple missions at one time. Alligator Dagger has been a valuable opportunity for the ARG/MEU team to not only rehearse for new and ongoing operations but to also demonstrate our combat proficiency and flexible combat potential in support of crisis response and regional stability."
The rehearsal focused on amphibious assaults; helicopter-borne raids; visit, board, search and seizure operations; air strikes; defense of the amphibious task force; integrated ground-and-air fires; tactical recovery of personnel; ground reconnaissance; medical casualty evacuations; combat marksmanship and quick reaction force and casualty evacuation rehearsals.
"We have trained extensively to enhance our methods and responses to possible scenarios that we may see,” said Capt. Joseph Olson, America's commanding officer. “I'm very proud of the team work throughout this training evolution. I'm confident that through the crew's grit, tactical knowledge and competence, we'll be ready to meet whatever challenges lie ahead."
The 15th MEU consists of the command element; aviation combat element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 161 (Reinforced); the ground combat element, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines; and the logistics combat element, Combat Logistics Battalion 15.
While in the region, the southern California-based Navy-Marine Corps team falls under CTF 51/5, and will help ensure the free flow of commerce, provide crisis response and support ongoing missions in the 5th Fleet area of operations.
For more information on America, visit: http://www.public.navy.mil/surfor/AMERICA/Pages/default.aspx, http://www.facebook.com/USSAMERICA
For more information on CPR3, visit: http://www.public.navy.mil/surfor/cpr3/Pages/default.aspx, https://www.facebook.com/PHIBRON3/
For more information on 15th MEU, visit: www.facebook.com/15thmarineexpeditionaryunit, www.twitter.com/15thmeuofficial, www.dvidshub.net/unit/15thmarineexpeditionaryunit
For more information on Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, visit: http://www.tf515.marines.mil/, https://www.facebook.com/TF51.5/, https://www.dvidshub.net/unit/5MEB/?q=CTF+51