Dawn Blitz 2017 was built upon previous iterations of the exercise and afforded the Navy/Marine Corps team the opportunity to capture lessons learned, to develop Navy-Marine Corps amphibious staff expertise, and to test new capabilities and equipment for the future fight.
Unique to 2017's exercise was the integration of the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter and the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) conducting a sea-based strike. This allowed commanders to validate a capability with platforms not traditionally used at the Marine Expeditionary Unit/Amphibious Ready Group (MEU/ARG) level.
Additionally, demonstration of the composite warfare construct and other command and control arrangements helped to promote unity of effort in littoral warfare.
"Our experiment in command and control structure is designed to provide the commander with greater flexibility and speed to employ assigned forces," said Hoekstra. "The amphibious force has always been the vanguard of naval power in these qualities."
The Navy and the Marine Corps enjoy a close working relationship based on past tradition, present requirements and future necessity to project power ashore. Leadership of both services share a common goal to refine and strengthen core amphibious competencies critical to maritime power projection.
"Dawn Blitz 17 is an invaluable opportunity for I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF) and the 1st MEB to experiment with advanced maritime and naval warfighting concepts, as well as refine existing tactics, techniques and procedures," said Lt. Col. Thomas Savage, Operations Officer, 1st MEB leading into the exercise. "The exercise also reinforces the strong and enduring relationships between U.S. Third Fleet, ESG 3, I MEF and 1st MEB."
An infantry company from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force also participated along with observers from Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico. The coordination with our international partners helped foster and maintain critical relationships to preserve peace and promote stability.
The exercise was an opportunity to meet the challenges of future conflicts, overseas contingency operations, humanitarian assistance/disaster response and homeland defense. The lessons learned are expected to improve the lethality and mission effectiveness of U.S. maritime forces.
"The experimentation results from Dawn Blitz 17 directly affect both the Navy and Marine Corps' future lethality and ability to fight and win in the future operating environment," said Savage. "Although the path ahead may be a challenging one as we seek to operationalize concepts, shape force capabilities, and integrate future systems, the lessons learned leading up to and during exercise execution promise the naval force sound security as one of our nation's principal means to project power from the sea to all domains of the battlefield."