Bold Alligator 2012 and the Future of the Expeditionary Strike Group


Bold Alligator 2012 was the largest Amphibious exercise in more than a decade. After a decade of land wars, the “return” of the USN-USMC team to littoral engagement operations is a core skillset, which needs to be highlighted and further, enhanced and developed.

Because it is called an amphibious exercise, outsiders who attended the exercise tended to focus upon the amphibious ships themselves, the landing ships, the vehicles and the assault on the beach. This is the trouble with what one sees.

The reality was that this was a power projection exercise, it was a maneuver of forces from the sea inland and out again.

Bold Alligator 2012 was a shift towards a new paradigm.

With the U.S. and its allies turning from the land wars of the past decade to formulating new approaches for the decade ahead shaping new approaches to the use of joint and coalition forces is clearly required.

In an interview after the exercise, Adm. Kevin Scott, 2nd Expeditionary Strike Group commander, underscored that the core effort was to bring the Navy-Marine team and the allied team together into an enhanced capability to operate from the sea. Re-crafting maneuver warfare from the sea is not just about technology and new capabilities; it is based on a concept of operations where collaborative team efforts become seamless.

With global challenges not going away, and financial constraints biting, the need to get best value out of current assets while adding new ones is a key element of strategic change.

The seabase can provide new maneuver warfare from the sea capability, seen off of the shores of Tripoli and practiced then off of the shores of Virginia and North Carolina.

Based on extensive interviews prior to, during and after the exercise, this Second Line of Defense Special Report highlights what happened and the significance of what happened for the evolution of a new combat approach.