5 years ago
With beach landings, 25 naval ships and an air assault, the United States and eight other countries are staging a major amphibious exercise on the US East Coast this week, fighting a fictional enemy that bears more than a passing resemblance to Iran.
After a decade dominated by ground wars against insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, the drill dubbed Bold Alligator is “the largest amphibious exercise conducted by the fleet in the last 10 years,” said Admiral John Harvey, head of US Fleet Forces Command.
About 20,000 US forces, plus hundreds of British, Dutch and French troops as well as liaison officers from Italy, Spain, New Zealand and Australia are taking part in the exercise along the Atlantic coast off Virginia and North Carolina.
An American aircraft carrier, amphibious assault ships including France’s Mistral, Canadian mine sweepers and dozens of aircraft have been deployed for the drill, which began on January 30 and runs through mid-February.
Monday was “D-day” for Bold Alligator, with US Marines stepping on to the beach from hovercraft, near the Camp Lejeune base in North Carolina.
The American military, mindful that Marines have spent most of their time in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan since 2001, said the goal was “to revitalize, refine, and strengthen fundamental amphibious capabilities and reinforce the Navy and Marine Corps role as ‘fighters from the sea.'”
With defense spending coming under pressure after years of unlimited growth, the Marines — which devoted a brigade to the exercise — also are anxious to protect funding for their traditional role as an amphibious force.
The exercise scenario takes place in a mythical region known as “Treasure Coast,” with a country called Garnet, a theocracy, invading its neighbor to the north, Amberland, which calls for international help to repel the attack.
Garnet has mined several harbors and deployed anti-ship missiles along the coast.
The threat of mines, anti-ship missiles and small boats in coastal waters conjure up Iran’s naval forces, but the commanders overseeing the drill, Admiral Harvey and Marine Lieutenant General Dennis Hejlik, say the scenario is not based on any particular country.
Good grief. Just to be clear for the thousandth time on the future of the U.S. Marine Corps, the Marines aren’t going to conduct a large scale, sea-based, amphibious assault and forcible entry to Iran. It would be ridiculous to believe so. In fact, the Marines aren’t going to conduct a large scale, sea-based amphibious assault and forcible entry anywhere else, ever. Marine Corps strategic thinking that prepares them for such an exigency is geriatric.
All the while, SOCOM is planning to park themselves in the Persian Gulf region using a Marine Corps amphibious assault dock, to conduct anti-piracy operations, air-based forcible entry and other missions and operations, conduct hostage rescue, and other assignments as the President decides.
Thus they have taken up the mantle of the Marine Corps and the Marine Corps is in the process of signing, sealing and delivering its irrelevancy to the twenty first century. Apparently the Marine Corps doesn’t care any more.