By Navy Lt. Cmdr. Sandra Arnold Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade
U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF OPERATIONS, April 4, 2018 — Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade has begun a two-week amphibious training event in international waters off the African coast of Djibouti.
Alligator Dagger is the largest regional amphibious combat rehearsal to integrate and synchronize TF 51/5’s warfighting capabilities and those of adjacent U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and special operations forces units.
“USS Iwo Jima’s Amphibious Ready Group and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit are prepared to rehearse a variety of tactical capabilities in this demanding and globally vital region,” said Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Frank Donovan, commander of TF 51/5. “This critical amphibious combat proficiency training will ensure our integrated Navy and Marine Corps forces are postured and prepared to execute operations at sea, from the sea and ashore.”
The expeditionary mobile base USS Lewis B. Puller -- named after Lt. Gen. Lewis “Chesty” Puller, one of the most decorated members of the Marine Corps -- as well as the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima, the dock landing ship USS Oak Hill, the destroyer USS Laboon and the 26th MEU are participating.
Practicing Key Tasks
“Alligator Dagger allows us to employ the breadth and depth of our combined arms team in an extremely challenging expeditionary environment characterized by extreme temperatures and unforgiving terrain,” said Marine Corps Col. Farrell J. Sullivan, commanding officer of the 26th MEU. “This combat rehearsal allows us to practice our key mission essential tasks spanning the range of military operations to resolve conflict, conduct humanitarian assistance and/or combat the enemy in remote, austere environments that would otherwise be inaccessible.”
Alligator Dagger will provide Iwo Jima and Oak Hill an opportunity to enhance capabilities in critical mission sets. Using landing craft and Iwo Jima’s embarked aircraft, the ships will provide a flexible and ready amphibious capability to deliver 26th MEU Marines, equipment and supplies ashore.
Ready to Deliver
“We must be a crisis response force ready to execute mission-essential tasks for our component commanders,” said Navy Capt. Jack Killman, commodore of Amphibious Squadron 4. “Alligator Dagger will keep the Iwo Jima ARG ready to effectively deliver a multicapable amphibious force to austere environments by air or sea.”
Alligator Dagger is the premier integrated combat proficiency training the Navy and Marine Corps team engage in during their deployment in Centcom’s area of responsibility. Specifically, this exercise will enable the military to execute amphibious training; live-fire; visit, board, search and seizure; tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel; and air assault evolutions.
“When it comes to crisis response, the ARG/MEU team is the force of choice,” Sullivan said. “This training will help us keep our edge sharp and keep the Marines and sailors focused. When called upon, we will be ready.”