This rehearsal exercise is conducted in preparations for the Bold Alligator Exercise 2012 that will take place in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
The numerous opportunities created by the two countries’ 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.
ACT had an opportunity to observe the certification process for the U.S. Navy Light Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) vessel while it conducted operations with the French Navy Ship (FS) Mistral during rehearsals for the exercise. Sailors from the U.S. Navy Assault Craft Unit Four (ACU 4) trained alongside their French counterparts on the French Projection and Command Ship (BPC) the FS Mistral. The Mistral went through this certification process to allow it to successfully operate with the U.S. Navy LCAC.
Also during this rehearsal and certification process, and under the supervision of instructors from the Naval Action Force, the fast amphibious landing craft, French Engin de débarquement amphibie rapide (EDAR) was used for the first time. This introduction phase allowed the French Naval crew to be familiarised with the new craft as it conducted so called ‘well deck operations’ on the Bâtiment de projection et de commandement (BPC-class) amphibious warfare ship.
The EDAR was handed over to the French Navy in November 2011, and this is the first time a new landing craft is deployed on a BPC-class ship. Now that the EDAR has been certified, it is able to take part in amphibious operations - and will participate in the Bold Alligator Exercise off the coast of North Carolina.
Bold Alligator shows NATO why partnerships between nations are important for the overall effectiveness of the Alliance. Each NATO nation may have its individual way of conducting operations, but the interoperability challenges are met through observation, data collection and analysis during bilateral exercises. Observing exercises like this can be utilised by NATO to assist in building better capabilities for the future.
On Thursday, the second-day of activities addressed outstanding certification requirements and the dress rehearsal including numerous LCAC trips ashore from the FS Mistral while transporting vehicles from the ship to the shore.
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.
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