Makin Island sailors and marines in month-long drill near Djibouti

Amphibious assault vehicles with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) prepare to land during the initial landing phases of Exercise Alligator Dagger, Dec. 6, 2016. Photo: US Navy

Sailors and marines from the U.S. Navy’s Makin Island amphibious ready group will spend the month of December in the vicinity of Djibouti rehearsing amphibious operations and conducting combat sustainment training.

The exercise is dubbed Alligator Dagger and led by Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51 and 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (CTF 51/5).

Alligator Dagger involves all three ships of the amphibious ready group and enables the marines and sailors of the 11th MEU to keep their skills ready for crisis response and contingency operations throughout the U.S. 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, helicopter-borne raids and visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations, among other drills.

Air strikes, defense of the amphibious task force, integrated ground-and-air fires, tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel and quick reaction force and casualty evacuation rehearsals will also be rehearsed.

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

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.


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