US Marines start combat rehearsal off Djibouti aboard French assault ship

US Marines train with French counterparts aboard FS Tonnerre. Photo: US Navy

Members of the US Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51, 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (TF 51/5) on December 13 started a bilateral amphibious combat rehearsal in international waters off the coast of Djibouti, Africa.

They will be teaming up with the French Task Group 473.1 which is composed of Mistral-class amphibious assault ship LHD FS Tonnerre and the Horizon-class air defense destroyer FS Chevalier Paul.

US Marines embarked aboard FS Tonnerre while the French ships were alongside in Aqaba, Jordan, on December 4.

During the Alligator Dagger exercise, the US and French will work side-by-side to execute amphibious and maritime security operations training.

“Alligator Dagger provides an invaluable opportunity for the US and France to enhance capabilities in critical mission sets inherent to our militaries operating in the US Central Command’s (CENTCOM) area of responsibly (AOR),” said Brig. Gen. Francis Donovan, TF 51/5’s commanding general. “This rehearsal is a continuation of the professional development of our forces, allies and partner nations and furthers our efforts toward ensuring regional stability, freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce within one of the most dynamic regions in the world.”

According to Donovan, Alligator Dagger is the largest regional amphibious combat rehearsal to synchronize TF 51/5, US Naval Forces Central Command and Special Operations Forces’ warfighting capabilities. This is the first time TF 51/5 sailors and marines have embarked upon a French vessel to rehearse power projection capabilities in the CENTCOM AOR.

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