Largest regional amphibious exercise kicks off in Djibouti, Africa

Story by Lt.Cmdr. Sandra Arnold

Photo By Petty Officer 3rd Class Justin Schoenberger | U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF OPERATIONS (Sept. 04, 2017) A landing craft, air cushion assigned to Assualt Craft Unit 5 aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22), prepares to enter the ship’s well deck during Alligator Dagger exercise. Alligator Dagger is a dedicated, unilateral combat rehearsal led by Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, in which combined Navy and Marine Corps units of the America Amphibious Ready Group and embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit are to practice, rehearse and exercise integrated capabilities that are available to U.S. Central Command both afloat and ashore. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Justin A. Schoenberger/Released)

DJIBOUTI – Naval Amphibious Forces, Task Force 51, 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (TF 51/5), announced the commencement of a two-week amphibious exercise in international waters off the coast of Djibouti, Africa, Sept. 4, 2017.

Exercise Alligator Dagger is the largest regional amphibious exercise to integrate and synchronize TF 51/5’s warfighting capabilities and those of adjacent U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and Special Operations Forces units.

“USS America’s Amphibious Ready Group and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit are prepared to rehearse a variety of tactical capabilities in this demanding and globally vital region,” said Marine Brig. Gen. Frank Donovan, commander of TF 51/5. “This critical amphibious combat proficiency training will ensure our integrated Navy and Marine Corps forces are postured and prepared to execute operations at sea, from the sea and ashore.”

According to Donovan, this is the first time that ships, Sailors and Marines of Amphibious Squadron 3 and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit will rehearse power projection capabilities in the U.S. Central Command area of operations. Other firsts include the use of a Landing Base/Platform and a Mine Hunting Unit with an Unmanned Surface Vehicle, both force multipliers that greatly increase TF 51/5’s ability to gain access to potentially denied coastal areas.

The America-class amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), the command ship for Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 3, USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), USS San Diego (LPD 22), 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and the Expeditionary Sea Base USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3), named after Lt. Gen. Lewis “Chesty” Puller – one of the most decorated members of the Marine Corps, will participate in the third iteration of this exercise.

“USS Puller allows U.S. Naval Forces greater operational flexibility while providing critical support to TF 51/5’s joint forces to meet potential threats in the 5th Fleet area of operations,” said Navy Capt. Adan G. Cruz, commanding officer of USS Puller. “The newly-commissioned Expeditionary Mobile Base platform will support Task Force 51/5’s diverse missions that include airborne mine countermeasures, counter-piracy operations, maritime security operations, humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions as well as crisis response operations.”

Exercise Alligator Dagger is the premier integrated combat proficiency training the U.S Navy and Marine Corps team engage in during their deployment in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. Specifically, this exercise will enable the military to execute amphibious training, live-fire, Vessel Board Search and Seizure, Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel as well as air assault evolutions.

For more information about TF 51/5 visit our website or subscribe to our DVIDS page, contact TF 51/5 Navy Lt. Cmdr. Sandra Arnold at, 973-1785-6351 or Marine Staff Sgt. Vitaliy Rusavskiy at