In March, U.S. Fleet Forces Command and U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command completed their Exercise Bold Alligator 2012 (BA12), the largest amphibious exercise in the past decade. A mix of live and simulated forces, the exercise followed Bold Alligator 2011, executed in December 2010, which was conducted wholly with simulated forces. The commands’ staffs are now crafting an extended campaign plan to incorporate Bold Alligator exercises into annual operations and training of East Coast naval forces. So why are these exercises important, and what challenges lie ahead?
Amphibious capability has become associated primarily with assaulting defended beaches and seizing lodgments for land campaigns. However, such forces provide much broader capability to the nation than that narrow mission profile. Stripped to its essence, an amphibious capability places an intact, ready-to-operate landing force ashore and supports it from the sea to accomplish the mission.