U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF OPERATIONS, Dec. 28, 2017 — The French navy amphibious assault ship LHD Tonnerre with embarked U.S. Marines and sailors from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, and the expeditionary mobile base ship USS Lewis B. Puller rehearsed amphibious and combat sustainment operations near Djibouti during Exercise Alligator Dagger, Dec. 12-21.
This iteration of Alligator Dagger marked the first time where this recurring U.S. training exercise was expanded to include French military partners participating in the at sea and ashore evolutions.
Approximately 1,000 U.S. and French troops trained together during the exercise to hone skills essential to ensuring regional stability, freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region. The exercise featured close cooperation between the U.S. and French forces deployed on the Tonnerre. The forces rehearsed possible contingency operations to provide a ready and capable force for crisis response and combat operations.
“As the only standing, forward deployed and fully integrated Navy/Marine Corps command, TF 51/5 prides itself in its ability to synchronize forces afloat and ashore to provide immediate and robust crisis response options to the U.S. Central Command and the National Command Authority,” said Marine Corps Col. Howard Hall, TF 51/5’s director of operations.
Hall added, “While naval integration is the foundation of TF 51/5’s effectiveness and success, partnering with French land and maritime forces in Alligator Dagger represents both a manifestation and expansion of naval integration to include our partners and allies. Combating transregional threats requires multidomain and multinational solutions.”
Honing Warfighting Skills
The exercise’s bilateral engagements focused on noncombatant evacuation operations; amphibious assaults; helicopter-borne raids; visit, board, search and seizure operations; airstrikes; defense of the amphibious task force; integrated ground-and-air fires; tactical recovery of personnel; ground reconnaissance; medical casualty evacuations; combat marksmanship and quick reaction force and casualty evacuation rehearsals.
Alligator Dagger is the largest regional amphibious exercise to integrate and synchronize TF 51/5’s warfighting capabilities with those of adjacent U.S. Naval Forces Special Operations Forces units to ensure they are postured and prepared to execute operations at sea, from the sea and ashore.