Amphibious ships from the US Navy’s America amphibious ready group along with the expeditionary support base ship USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3) concluded over two weeks of drills off the coast of Djibouti on September 20.
Marines and sailors aboard the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) with the embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 3 rehearsed amphibious operations and combat sustainment during exercise Alligator Dagger 2017.
This is the second time Alligator Dagger is taking place in Djibouti this year. The first one was held in April and included ships and units from the UK and France.
Alligator Dagger is a dedicated, unilateral combat rehearsal led by Naval Amphibious Forces, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, in which combined Navy and Marine Corps units of the America Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and embarked 15th MEU were able to train and employ integrated capabilities available to U.S. Central Command both afloat and ashore.
The exercise also involved the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) and amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22) of the America ARG, along with the expeditionary support base ship USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3), the newly commissioned afloat forward staying base variant of the mobile landing platforms.
As additional support, the ARG also utilized the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Howard (DDG 83) and USS Kidd (DDG 100). Training with a wide range of ship types and classes during Alligator Dagger allowed the ARG to refine their maritime capabilities and preparing them for tactical requirements and future operations.
The rehearsal focused on amphibious assaults; helicopter-borne raids; visit, board, search and seizure operations; air strikes; 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.
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.