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US, UK and France Complete Exercise Alligator Dagger 17

By USS Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit Public Affairs | April 25, 2017

ARTA BEACH, Djibouti – Forces from the U.S., U.K. and France completed Exercise Alligator Dagger 17, a two-week multilateral amphibious exercise in international waters off the coast of Djibouti and in the vicinity of Djibouti and Arta Beach, April 20.

Exercise Alligator Dagger 17, led by U.S. Naval Amphibious Forces, Task Force 51/5th Marine and Expeditionary Brigade (51/5), brought together elements of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) with forces from the Royal Navy and French Marines. The exercise’s purpose was to familiarize units with the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility and to sharpen tactical proficiency for the ARG/MEUs as well as other partner nations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

Participating forces include the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5), the command ship for Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 8, USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), 24th MEU, the Royal Navy ship HMS Monmouth (F235), USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15) and a detachment of the French 5th Marine Regiment.

Exercise Alligator Dagger 17 is one of several training opportunities to be undertaken by Marines and Sailors during their deployment in the region. Recurring training opportunities such as this one support the relationship and professional development of military-to-military with partnering nations.

“What’s great about these exercises is that we gain proficiency in our ability to operate effectively with coalition forces,” said Commander Amphibious Squadron 8, Capt. Larry LeGree. “Table-top exercises have great value, but nothing beats actual at-sea operations to train as we fight. This high-end interoperability with the Royal Navy and the French Marines has reinforced my confidence in our ability to plan and execute together as an effective coalition force.”

"This exercise was a valuable opportunity to maintain our fighting edge whilst being able to train with some of the nations and ships we will be working with over the coming months," said Royal Navy Cmdr. Ian Feasey, commanding officer of HMS Monmouth.

Participants conducted fire team, squad and platoon-level live-fire ranges, vessel board search and seizure, integrated amphibious operations, day and night time full mission profiles and long range raid and coalition integration of forces. Forces at sea conducted anti-air and anti-submarine exercises to enhance at sea communication and coordination and provide a unique opportunity to enhance multilateral capabilities in critical mission-sets inherent to the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps team with partners and allies in the region.

“The ability to utilize and incorporate coalition forces into the Alligator Dagger 2017 anti-submarine exercise (ASW) exercise proved to be a great opportunity to improve our operational prowess, to work through international barriers, and to enhance our understanding of the capabilities of non-organic allied forces,” said Lt. William Rash, Amphibious Squadron 8 antisubmarine warfare officer.

Alligator Dagger provided the opportunity to refresh the proficiency of Sailors and Marines in the execution of aviation and ground support operations in an austere and arid environment.

“There were multiple instances of interoperability between the ACE and the French forces,” said Maj. Jason Harris, operations officer of the MEU’s Aviation Combat Element (ACE), Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365. “We were able to execute skills including reduced visibility landings, forward arming and refueling point establishment, tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel, and air combat
maneuvering. The training we accomplished will further prepare us to support the MEU in the execution of any contingency operations.”

U.S. 5th Fleet's area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean. This expanse, comprised of 20 countries, includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.