French, U.S. Military Prepares for Alligator Dagger

Alligator Dagger is a dedicated, bilateral combat rehearsal that combines U.S. and French forces to practice, rehearse and exercise integrated capabilities available to U.S. Central Command both afloat and ashore.

U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Operations ─ Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51, 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade announced the commencement of a bilateral amphibious combat rehearsal, alongside the French, in international waters off the coast of Djibouti, Africa, Dec. 14.

French navy Horizon-class frigate Chevalier Paul (D621) and French navy Mistral-class amphibious assault ship LHD Tonnerre (L9014) line up for a photo with the USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3) during Alligator Dagger, a combat rehearsal off the coast of Djibouti

French navy Mistral-class amphibious assault ship LHD Tonnerre (L9014) lines up for a photo with the USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3) during Alligator Dagger — French photo by Master Chief Petty Officer Serge Charmoillaux.

During this iteration, TF 51/5 Sailors and Marines along with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked aboard French Mistral-class amphibious assault ship LHD Tonnerre will work side-by-side to execute amphibious and maritime security operations training.

U.S. Marines and French military forces disembark a French roll-on/roll-off catamaran LC

"Alligator Dagger provides an invaluable opportunity for the U.S. and France to enhance capabilities in critical mission sets inherent to our militaries operating in the U.S. Central Command's area of responsibly," said Brig. Gen. Francis Donovan, TF 51/5's commanding general.

Staff Sgt. Christopher Smith offloads from a French landing craft on Arta Beach, Djibouti

"This rehearsal is a continuation of the professional development of our forces, allies and partner nations and furthers our efforts toward ensuring regional stability, freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce within one of the most dynamic regions in the world."

U.S. Marines and French military forces disembark

According to Donovan, Alligator Dagger is the largest regional amphibious combat rehearsal to synchronize TF 51/5, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and Special Operations Forces' warfighting capabilities. This is the first time TF 51/5 Sailors and Marines have embarked upon a French vessel to rehearse power projection capabilities in the CENTCOM AOR.

U.S. Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit take aim at a target

"This exercise is a cornerstone for the amphibious Task Group," said Capt. Nicolas Vaujour, commander of France's amphibious task group. "It will enhance French-U.S. interoperability and will provide to French and US authorities a credible operational capability at sea, from the sea and ashore."

U.S. Marines receive targeting information used to adjust fire

Alligator Dagger is the premier integrated combat proficiency training for TF 51/5's subordinate units entering the CENTCOM AOR. Specifically, this bilateral training will enable military forces to hone their skills in amphibious operations, air defense, non-combatant evacuation, quick-reaction force, replenishment-at-sea, tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel as well as visit, board, search and seizure.

U.S. Army Soldiers maneuver through simulated smoke to engage targets

For more information about TF 51/5 visit our website or subscribe to our DVIDS page, contact TF 51/5 Navy Lt. Cmdr. Sandra Arnold at, 973-1785-6965 or Marine Capt. Monica Witt at