ARTA BEACH, Djibouti (Dec. 20, 2016) Marines and Sailors with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (11th MEU) embark a landing craft utility (LCU) during exercise Alligator Dagger at Arta Beach, Djibouti. The 11th MEU provides a sea-based Marine Air-Ground Task Force capable of conducting multiple missions from amphibious operations to humanitarian assistance. This provides combatant commanders with a versatile force able to assure allies, deter threats, and maintain a consistent U.S. presence. The unilateral exercise provides an opportunity for the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group and 11th MEU to train in amphibious operations within the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Xzavior T. McNeal/Released)

U.S., U.K. and France began Exercise Alligator Dagger 17, April 5. The two-week multilateral amphibious exercise is taking place in international waters off the coast of Djibouti and in the vicinity of Djibouti and Arta Beach, April 5 – April 20.

Exercise Alligator Dagger 17, led by U.S. Naval Amphibious Forces, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (51/5), is a multilateral amphibious exercise with the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) as part of the sustainment training for ARG/MEUs in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. The Alligator Dagger Exercise iterations familiarize ARG/MEUs with the CENTCOM area of responsibility (AOR) and sharpen tactical proficiency.

Participating forces include the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5), the command ship for Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 8, USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), 24th MEU, HMS Monmouth (F235), USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15) and a detachment of the French 5th Marine Regiment.

Participants will conduct fire team, squad and platoon level live-fire ranges, vessel board search and seizure (VBSS), integrated amphibious operations, day and night time full mission profiles/long range raid and coalition integration or forces. The exercise also provides a unique opportunity to enhance multilateral capabilities in critical mission-sets inherent to the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps team with partners and allies in the region.

“We are excited to be participating in this dynamic exercise alongside our allies and partners,” said Navy Capt. James Dunn, Deputy Commodore of Amphibious Squadron 8. “Exercises like Alligator Dagger enhance the execution of our wide range of capability, while increasing the ability of all participants to plan and oversee complex operations.”

Exercise Alligator Dagger 17 is one of several training opportunities to be undertaken by Marines and Sailors during their deployment in the region. Recurring training opportunities such as this one support the professional development of U.S. forces and military-to-military relationship-development with partnering nations.

“This exercise is an excellent opportunity for the Navy – Marine Corps team,” said Col. Ryan Rideout, Commanding Officer of the 24th MEU. “Marines and Sailors are always excited about any opportunity to work with regional partners and allies as we conduct operations at sea, from the sea, and ashore.”

The Amphibious Ready Group and Marine Expeditionary Unit are forward-deployed-engaged, and postured to shape actions across the range of military operations to resolve conflict, conduct humanitarian assistance, or combat the enemy in remote, austere environments that would otherwise be inaccessible. Alligator Dagger provides a unique opportunity to enhance capabilities in critical mission sets inherent to the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps team.

U.S. 5th Fleet’s area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean. This expanse, comprised of 20 countries, includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.