U.S. Naval Amphibious Forces, Task Force 51, 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, is hosting its third iteration of Exercise Alligator Dagger in Djibouti, Africa, for two weeks starting from September 4. The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps team is conducting sustainment and high-level tactical proficiency training to prepare the forces for expeditionary operations at sea, from the sea and ashore in one of the world's most austere environments.
This is the first time that ships, Sailors and Marines of Amphibious Squadron 3 and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit are rehearsing crisis response and contingency missions in the U.S. Central Command area of operations.
Also of note is the participation and integration of Expeditionary Sea Base, USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3), which permanently deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet in August. Named after Lt. Gen. Lewis “Chesty” Puller, one of the most decorated members of the U.S. Marine Corps, the newly commissioned platform allows the naval forces to sustain an expeditionary presence.
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), Battalion Landing Team 1/5, Aviation Combat Element VMM-161 (reinforced) and the Logistics Combat Element CLB-15 are participating. This exercise is USS America’s maiden deployment to the U.S. Fifth Fleet area of operations.
A U.S. Marine Force Reconnaissance Marine with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit directs simulated air strikes from two U.S. Marine AV-8B Harrier II aircraft.
U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Lawrence Boughton instructs Marines of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit as they conduct training on the M777 Howitzer.
U.S. Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit fire M777 Howitzer cannons.
Two SA-330 Puma helicopters assigned to the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE 11) deliver supplies to the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) while deployed off the coast of Djibouti in support of Alligator Dagger.
Sailors and Marines assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) organize pallets of supplies on the ship’s flight deck during a replenishment-at-sea with the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE 11) while underway in support of Alligator Dagger.
Personnel Specialist 3rd Class Josephine Fabia, a San Diego native, assigned to the executive department aboard the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), operates a fire hose during hose team training in the ship’s hangar bay.
Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Airman Nicholas Houlihan, a native of La Crosse, Wisconsin, assigned to the air department aboard the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), guides an MV-22 Osprey assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 161 (Reinforced) for landing.