U.S. and French soldiers at amphibious exercise Alligator Dagger 17


The French Navy Mistral-class amphibious assault ship LHD Tonnerre (L9014), with embarked U.S. Marines and Sailors from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and TF 51/5, and the USS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB 3) will conduct bilateral amphibious operations in the vicinity of Djibouti during the month of December 2017 during the two weeks multilateral amphibious exercise Alligator Dagger 17. (By Lt.Cmdr. Sandra Arnold, TF 51/5)


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U.S. Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and French Navy sailors offload from a French landing catamaran at Arta Beach, Djibouti, while conduction amphibious training during Alligator Dagger. (Picture source DVIDS by Sgt. Jessica Lucio)


Approximately 1,000 U.S. and French troops trained together during the exercise to hone critical skill sets that are essential to ensuring regional stability, freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in this dynamic and challenging environment. The exercise continued the close cooperation between the U.S. and French Forces deployed on Tonnerre and to rehearse possible contingency operations to provide a highly ready and capable force for crisis response and combat operations.

The bilateral engagements focused on noncombatant evacuation operations; 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.

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. The two-week combat rehearsal, launched from international waters off the coast of Djibouti and executed on land in the vicinity of Arta Beach, is synchronized with each incoming TF 51/5’s subordinate vessel’s entry into the U.S. 5th Fleet.

This is the first time that French troops are involved in this recurring U.S. training exercise led by U.S. Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (TF 51/5). This bilateral combat rehearsal will provide a unique opportunity to enhance capabilities in critical mission sets inherent to the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps and our allies. Recurring training opportunities support the professional development of our forces and supports military-to-military relationship development.


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