13th MEU (SOC), coalition forces demonstrate amphibious capabilities at Exercise Bright Star

15 Sep 2005 | Capt. Amy E. Malugani 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Coalition forces participating in Exercise Bright Star successfully conducted an Amphibious Assault demonstration on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, Sept 15.  The demonstration is one of six major training evolutions planned throughout the six-week exercise in Egypt designed to enhance the cohesion and interoperability of coalition forces. 

Marines and Sailors from Expeditionary Strike Group One (ESG-1), Amphibious Squadron One (CPR – 1) and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) worked closely with Greek, Egyptian and Jordanian forces to demonstrate the effectiveness of combined-joint operations from ship to shore.

Bright Star is a "combined joint computer-aided command post exercise" and a field training exercise using tactical air, ground, naval and special operations forces designed to build understanding, friendship, cooperation and cohesiveness among coalition forces.

Army Gen. John Abizaid, U.S. Central Command commanding general, attended the amphibious demonstration to observe U.S. forces working hand-in-hand with coalition partners.

“It is important to demonstrate cooperation in this part of world, and the ability to fight when we have to,” he said. “We’ve demonstrated that today.”

The demonstrations began with an Egyptian Ranger company rapidly hitting the beach in twelve fast rubber assault boats, known as Zodiacs.  As the Zodiacs hit the beach, the Rangers continued on foot to establish security on the beach for oncoming personnel and equipment.

Coalition aircraft provided simulated close air support and strike capabilities throughout the demonstration as waves of ground forces assaulted the beach.  One of the highlights of the demonstration was the support provided by the 13th MEU (SOC) Air Combat Element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 163 (REIN). Marine AV-8B Harrier Fighter Jets and AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters flew overhead demonstrating the effectiveness and capabilities of the Marine Air Ground Task Force.

Together with the U.S. Navy, the MEU serves as the nation’s forward deployed, quick response team, capable of accomplishing numerous missions around the world to include amphibious assaults, direct-action raids, humanitarian assistance operations and tactical non-combatant withdrawal.  

While coalition air assets provided high volume tactical air support to inhibit enemy maneuver and mobility, Sailors from Beach Master Unit One, CPR-1, directed landing craft and amphibious assault vehicles to the beach to offload ground forces and essential equipment.

The ESG-1 commander, Navy Rear Admiral Michael LeFever observed Marines and Sailors working together with coalition forces from the beach.

“The ESG proved the ability to work as part of a coalition.  The Greek, Egyptian and Jordanian forces seamlessly integrated into our amphibious operations, and we staged a very successful landing,” he said.

The second wave of the assault hit the beach in seven U.S. Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV) and five Egyptian Topaz vehicles carrying Egyptian infantry and U.S. Marines from Echo Company, Battalion Landing Team 2/1.  

The initial waves of an assault provide supporting arms and direct fire as directed based on the enemy situation.  Leading assault elements cleared sufficient space across the beach in depth, to ensure secure offloading of incoming landing craft. 

The next wave of the assault carried the preponderance of coalition forces and equipment.  Egyptian, Jordanian, U.S. and Greek forces approached the beach in United States and Greek landing crafts utility, known as LCUs, and landing crafts air cushioned, commonly referred as LCAC, which originally departed from the USS Pearl Harbor.

The last wave of the demonstration consisted of one United States LCU carrying two Egyptian 155mm Howitzer guns. Coalition commanders and honored guests watched as the LCUs landed and offloaded at the center of the beach. 

The final waves of amphibious assaults provide equipment and logistics necessary to sustain forces and operations ashore.

Abizaid showed his appreciation of the demonstration to Marines from BLT 2/1’s Light Armored Reconnaissance Platoon, greeting Marines with firm handshakes and presenting them with his commander’s coin. 

One of the Marines recognized was Sgt. David Nygren of LAR platoon, who summed up his part in the demonstration. 

“Although we only had a small piece in the demo today, I think we (the U.S. Navy and Marines) showed we can effectively work together with coalition forces.”

For more information about the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), visit the unit's Web site at www.usmc.mil/13thmeu.

13th Marine Expeditionary Unit