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MKI ARG, 11th MEU conduct amphibious drills in the Gulf of Aden during

By 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Public Affairs Office | December 08, 2016

5th FLEET AREA OF OPERATIONS - U.S. Marines and Sailors of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (MKI ARG)/11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (11th MEU) are rehearsing amphibious operations and conducting combat sustainment training in the vicinity of Djibouti throughout December during Exercise Alligator Dagger.


Led by Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (CTF 51/5), the exercise involves all three ships of the MKI ARG and enables the Marines and Sailors of the 11th MEU to conduct the comprehensive amphibious operations that keep their skills ready for crisis response and contingency operations throughout the Central Command area of responsibility.


"We can use small teams or the whole force. We can travel vast distances, hit multiple objectives, and we do it all from the sea, day or night," said Col. Clay C. Tipton, commanding officer, 11th MEU. "We can bring hope to our partners and allies, or destruction to our enemies. We are ready to support any mission from the air, land, or sea."


The exercise will focus on amphibious assaults; helo-borne raids; visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations; air strikes; defense of the amphibious task force; mechanized movements with tanks and light armored vehicles; integrated ground-and-air fires; tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel; ground reconnaissance; combat marksmanship; convoy operations; and quick reaction force and casualty evacuation rehearsals.


Arriving in the 5th Fleet area of operations Nov. 30, the MKI ARG is comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), the command ship for Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 5 and the 11th MEU, amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45).


The 11th MEU is a sea-based Marine Air-Ground Task Force comprised of a ground combat element, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines; an aviation combat element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 163 (Reinforced); a combat logistics element, Combat Logistics Battalion 11; and a command element with a commanding officer who leads the entire MEU.


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.


"Our ability to rapidly augment ongoing missions, conduct new operations, or be the first responders to an emerging crisis is the unique value of the ARG/MEU," said Capt. Mike Crary, Commander, PHIBRON 5. "With our ships, aircraft, logistical equipment, Sailors and Marines, we are capable of handling multiple missions at one time. We are a self-contained, self-sustained task force capable of conducting everything from humanitarian assistance to combat operations."