January 30, 2012

U.S. and French Navy conduct interoperability tests in preparation of next Bold Alligator Exercise 2012

News Report

As illustrated in a recent news release, a naval interoperability exercise between the United States and France (which are NATO Allies) took place on January 25th and 26th on the beaches of Fort Story in Virginia Beach, U.S.A. The rehearsal exercise was conducted in preparations for the next multi-national amphibious exercise Bold Alligator Exercise 2012 that will take place in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, U.S.A., involving the navies of the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom.

During the exercise, Assault Craft Unit Four (ACU4) Sailors trained with the crew of French Projection and Command ship (BPC) FS Mistral (L9013).

U.S. Navy Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) Vehicle from Assault Craft Unit Four (ACU-4)

French Navy FS MISTRAL L9013
FS Mistral typically works with displacement crafts, and not American LCACs. There are many challenges to face in the adaptation of a new craft into the well deck including how the well deck accepts the new craft; the level of water required for the different crafts; how to handle lines; along with the loading and unloading, both on board and on the beach.

Exercise Bold Alligator 2012 (BA12) is expected revitalize U.S. Navy and Marine Corps amphibious expeditionary tactics, techniques and procedures, and reinvigorate its culture of conducting combined Navy and Marine Corps operations from the sea. BA12 will be a live and synthetic, scenario-driven, simulation-supported exercise designed to train Expeditionary Strike Group 2 (ESG 2), 2d Marine Expeditionary Brigade (2d MEB) and Carrier Strike Group 12. Staffs will plan and execute a MEB-sized amphibious assault from a seabase in a medium land-and-maritime threat environment to improve naval amphibious core competencies.

The exercise will run Jan. 30 through Feb. 12, ashore and afloat, in and off the coasts of Virginia, North Carolina and Florida

The Context

The numerous opportunities created by the U.S. and French armed forces through exchange programs, permanent sharing and exercises like Bold Alligator 2012 represent the very foundation of the many bilateral partnerships between NATO Nations. The Bold Alligator Exercise, although not a NATO exercise, is an example of how NATO Nations like the U.S. and France can work together to enhance interoperability and to strengthen the Trans-Atlantic link.

A bilateral exercise of this nature serves as a major contributor to Lessons Learned for all Allied nations. It is an opportunity to observe how exercises and operations are conducted while determining best practices and what works well between two national forces. All exercises between NATO nations, whether in a NATO context or not, are valuable to enhancing interoperability skills and capabilities.

Old con-ops will be studied and validated or dismissed in favor of new lessons learned. Ships planes and weapon systems currently in the fleet will be employed. New advances in command and control will be looked at and vetted.


"We have worked with the French navy not only here, but also in Toulon, France, to ensure our landing craft and the Mistral's well deck are compatible," said Capt. Mike Ott, ACU4 commanding officer. "This exercise today is the culmination of that planning and work we did overseas."

"This provides the opportunity to ensure that both the French and U.S. sailors understand differences in the crafts and can adapt correctly to them, so we can execute any mission safely," said Ott. "It is critical that we are able to conduct these operations, so that at any time and place in the world we could join forces with our French allies for any operation, such as Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya, with little warning and little preparation and be 100 percent combat ready in a very short time."

References: NATO (1), U.S. Navy (2,3), SLD (4)

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