AUGUST 26, 2016, NORFOLK, Va. – Second Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) and Expeditionary Strike Group 2 are embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan and proving the Navy and Marine Corps possess expanded capability to execute integrated large-scale amphibious operations in response to crisis during Bold Alligator 16, Aug. 15-26.
BA 16 is the continuation of the series designed to train and integrate ESG-2 with 2d MEB to execute a MEB-sized forcible entry operation against a combined land, maritime and hybrid enemy.
Operating from a simulated sea-base, the Navy/Marine Corps team combined with a forward deployed Carrier Strike Group and Amphibious Ready Group with embarked Marine Expeditionary Unit to degrade anti-access/area denial weapons (A2/AD), shape the environment, and assault the beach with two Ground Combat Elements consisting of Regimental Landing Team and 3 Commando Brigade of the Royal Marines. The combined team totaled 15,000 personnel across real-world and simulation.
“The Bold Alligator series is unique because it exercises and showcases the capabilities – the power projection capabilities – of the Navy/Marine Corps team like no other exercise series,” said Brig. Gen. Robert F. Castellvi, commanding general of 2d MEB.
Joint forcible entry operations are the overarching objective with specific consideration toward command and control operations in a denied or degraded and A2/AD environment. Other exercise goals include improvement of overall amphibious capability and awareness, improved interoperability with allies and partners, and building a solid foundation for future exercises and operations.
Additionally, the maritime transfer and shaping operations (in the air, land and maritime domain) in BA 16 are exercised using a holistic approach.
Many nations have sent representatives who have integrated into the staff of both 2d MEB and ESG-2, including Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
“Bold Alligator is a significant segment of a larger training continuum for 2d MEB across the range of military operations,” said Castellvi, noting the brigade’s proven track record as a Combined Joint Task Force Headquarters in the cold-weather environment of Norway during Exercise Cold Response 16, and executing MEB-level operations ashore in the desert during the Corps’ annual Large Scale Exercise.
Upcoming elements of that continuum include participation in exercises such as U.S. Africa Command’s Judicious Response, U.S. European Command’s Austere Challenge, Bold Alligator 17 and 19, and Trident Juncture 18 as part of the five-year Campaign Plan for Amphibious Operations.
Rear Adm. Roy I. Kitchener, commander, ESG-2, emphasized the importance of ally and partner-nation participation in the exercise.
“Interoperability is challenging, and unless we practice it, we’re never going to be good at it,” said Kitchener. “It’s really encouraging to see them here, and I think the level of integration during Bold Alligator with the coalition is some of the best I’ve ever seen.”
Kitchener said expanding the time-honored brotherhood between the Navy and Marines is a key takeaway from the exercise.
“I think the biggest lesson is that we have to continue to do these kinds of integrated operations with the Marines,” said Kitchener. “But I can tell you this: we will always get it done because our people – those Sailors and Marines – always figure out a way to get it done no matter what constraints they face.”
Bold Alligator 17 will encompass 10 nations, up to 10 amphibious ships and include more than 15,000 Marines, Sailors and international partners invading the beaches of North Carolina and demonstrating the power of the combined Navy/Marine Corps team.