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Bold Alligator 2014 moves ashore for beach operations training

US Marine Corps News

By Cpl. James Smith | November 12, 2014

The silhouettes of U.S. naval ships could be seen in the distance cruising off the coast of Onslow Beach, North Carolina, on the morning of Nov. 4.

Marines with 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force slipped ashore early in the morning to scout possible landing areas as part of Exercise Bold Alligator 14. The joint, scenario-driven exercise was designed to hone the naval services' expeditionary model for the 21st century.

Beach operations began with reconnaissance Marines securing a small foothold ashore to pave the way for follow-on forces.

"Once we landed our teams at Onslow Beach, we posted security, got the boats up onto the high water mark, pushed [inland] and started performing reconnaissance," said Sgt. Kyle Czapp, a team leader with 2nd Recon Bn. "For Bold Alligator, what we are testing out is getting these [reconnaissance] reports from the beach back to the ship so that follow-on forces can follow us in here and have an idea of what they're looking at before they get to shore."

Czapp said that his Marines have been preparing for this operation by conducting vigorous training and performing numerous run-throughs of the exercise.

"We've been doing amphibious operations for the past six to seven months, not only in preparation for Bold Alligator, but just for our regular tasks as well," said Czapp, a native from Warren, Michigan. "We've been sending people through dive school, practicing hydrographic surveys and going through rehearsals of this for the past three weeks."

Beyond amphibious operations, Czapp said his Marines are also able to utilize their various land and airborne insertion capabilities to provide commanders with valuable intelligence on the ground.

"Battle-space shaping is a huge ability that we bring to the fight," said Czapp. "It allows commanders to make better timely decisions on what forces they want to bring in after us and gives them a better idea of what's happening on the ground."

Shortly after the reconnaissance Marines landed, assault amphibious vehicles began making their way toward shore, sliding in behind the Marines of 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion.

"Our purpose is to move in, assault and secure the beach with a company of [infantry] embarked with my platoon," said 1st Lt. Lee McKinnon, assault amphibious vehicle platoon commander for 1st Platoon, Charlie Company, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. "We are the first wave to come through and secure the beach. Once we secure the beach, we push inland and secure main supply routes, essentially opening up supply lines for the Special Purpose [Marine Air Ground Task Force]."

Throughout the operation, the Marines were able to work hand in hand with U.S. Navy vessels and their Brazilian counterparts, who were familiar with operating the AAVs and performed the beach operation alongside 2nd AA Bn.

As the Marine Corps prepares for future operations, coalition partners will continue to play a large role alongside forward deployed crisis response and Marine Expeditionary Units around the world.

"The future of the Marine Corps is shifting back more toward amphibious roots," said McKinnon. "Now that we're moving that shift more toward the maritime forces again, we're putting a lot more effort into building our readiness as a sea-going military."

By practicing these types of maneuvers and executing operations on both land and sea, the Navy-Marine Corps team can aid force projection from the sea and support MAGTFs with logistical capabilities.

"The amphibious assault vehicles are what make the Marine Corps amphibious," said McKinnon. "Bringing these vehicles to the fight and coming with that type of firepower and overwhelming force is essential to the Marine Corps' mission and what we do as Marines."

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