Public Affairs Officer for II Marine Expeditionary Force
In the summer of 2008, then commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James T. Conway, released a message to all Marines and sailors commanding them to reestablish their traditional roles as “fighters from the sea.”
Now, after more than 10 years of fighting in land-locked warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Navy’s Second Fleet and Marine Corps’ II Marine Expeditionary Force are scheduled to team up Dec. 11 to conduct Exercise Bold Alligator 2011 – a two-part exercise initiated by Navy and Marine Corps leadership designed to reacquaint brigade and group level commands with their amphibious doctrine, tactical skill sets and logistical requirements.
Bold Alligator is the first installment in what will be regularly scheduled large amphibious exercises involving the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade and the Expeditionary Strike Group 2. This year, the exercise sets an ambitious goal for military planners and Marines and sailors involved. The scenario for the exercise includes a forcible entry operation conducted to enable a non-combatant evacuation in the midst of a violent sectarian conflict indicative of potential conflict situations currently in many parts of the world. This complex but realistic mission requires the ability to respond rapidly, project a credible force ashore, organize and execute the evacuation of thousands of non-combatants, including, if necessary, transportation to intermediate evacuation sites. In many cases, amphibious forces can only provide these capabilities.
What are Amphibious Operations?
Typically, amphibious operations are launched from the sea in order to conduct a host of missions ranging from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to full-scale assaults in combat environments. However, there are some misconceptions that amphibious operations are synonymous with beach landings or that the U.S. has not conducted an amphibious operation since Inchon during the Korean War. In the past two decades, our nation has conducted more than 100 amphibious operations in response to international security threats and crises, with the vast majority of these falling into non-combatant evacuations, disaster relief, or similar crisis response operations – a response rate more than double that during the Cold War era.
Amphibious operations are more than just assaults. The utility in conducting raids, demonstrations, and support to other non-combatant operations is immense. Some amphibious operations/missions include:
Show of force/deterrence
Why are Amphibious Operations Important?
Consider most of the littorals and straits of the world, which are accessible to large military forces only via sea lanes. These littorals are home to nearly 80 percent of the world’s population, most of which lives in urban areas beleaguered with poverty, lack of food, water, education and reliable medical care. All these factors make these locations the most susceptible to influence of violent extremist ideologies, which spread conflict well beyond their own borders.
Also littorals include straits, which are strategic choke points that offer potential control of the world’s sea lanes of communication. These strategic passages can be mined, blocked by sinking ships, or interdicted by naval forces, artillery or missile systems. Because of these factors, amphibious forces have an enormous impact on the international security environment and the Navy/Marine Corps team has a distinctive ability to gain access to these critical to shape actions across the range of military operations in resolving conflict, conducting humanitarian assistance, or combating the enemy.
For more information about the future of amphibious operations with the Navy/Marine Corps team, refer to the U.S. Naval Institute website.
On a related note, DoDLive has also scheduled a DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable with Brig. Gen. Christopher S. Owens, deputy commanding general, II Marine Expeditionary Force, the Marine component of Exercise Bold Alligator 2011 for Thursday, Dec. 2 at 1 p.m. EST.