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Sailors aboard the USS Kearsarge man the well deck’s operating center during Exercise Bold Alligator 2012 as landing craft, air cushions board the ship Jan. 31. The logistics personnel for both the Navy and Marine Corps personnel are expected to gain experience in smoothly bringing gear aboard ship and taking gear off ship. This exercise is scheduled to run through Feb. 12 afloat and ashore in and around Virginia and North Carolina.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Scott L. Tomaszycki

RLT-2 demonstrates importance of logistics

2 Feb 2012 | Lance Cpl. Scott L. Tomaszycki

The logisticians with Regimental Landing Team 2 aboard the USS Kearsarge spent three days loading tons of equipment from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune on board for Exercise Bold Alligator 2012.

The exercise focuses on today’s fight with today’s forces, while showcasing the advantages of seabasing which is made possible through the abilities of logistics Marines. The Navy and Marine Corps team is scheduled to practice launching combined-arms offensives from the sea with everything needed to carry out the full range of military operations.

“We are bringing across the four ships the equivalent of a battalion landing team’s gear set,” said Staff Sgt. Ralph C. Condit III, the logistics chief for the Regimental Landing Team 2. “We don’t require a deep-water port to supply ourselves. We can make do with what we have to continually support as a landing force progresses through an operation.”

Regimental logistics brought on board the four ships an infantry battalion, a company of tanks, two batteries of artillery, a light armored reconnaissance platoon and enough amphibious assault vehicles for an amphibious lift from ship to shore. Condit said that the ships also carry enough supplies on board to support all Marine Corps elements for 30 days in a combat environment.

This ability to self sustain makes the seabasing concept possible. The forces and equipment involved in the operations must first fit on the ships to get to the destination. At the destination, the forces and equipment must be offloaded in a timely manner and possibly under fire. Exercise Bold Alligator 2012, the largest naval amphibious exercise in the past 10 years, represents the Navy and Marine Corps’ revitalization of the full range of amphibious operations with a focus on seabasing allowing this combatant naval team to flex its ability to operate from ship to shore.

“We’ve learned that we have a lot of heavy equipment that doesn’t fit on the ships the Navy has and it takes a lot of detailed coordination to actually execute amphibious operations,” said Capt. Arthur R. Hopkins IV, the RLT-2 embarkation officer aboard the USS Kearsarge. “By their nature, they are the most difficult operations to ever perform. I just got back from a deployment in Afghanistan and that was ten times easier than what we’re doing right now.”

To get it done, Marines worked long hours starting months before the exercise to build their load plans for a successful on-load.

“The load plans begin to be designed and worked six months out from this,” said Condit. “It’s not one of those things where we just show up on the beach and say, ‘Hey, we got all this gear and we’re just going to throw it on the ship,’ and then we figure it out as it goes. Other embark Marines like myself spend countless hours with graphics, deck layouts of the ship, figuring out where everything is going to fit, making sure we can get into these spaces, and maximizing the use of the limited square footage that we have aboard ship so we can get the most bang for our buck.”

Getting back to the amphibious nature of the Navy and Marine Corps team is one of the goals of Bold Alligator along with focusing on today’s fight with today’s forces. Ensuring all required equipment and personnel make it aboard has been the pain staking task of logisticians like the ones with RLT-2.

After three days RLT-2 was able to embark more than 2,400 short tons of equipment on the amphibious ready group and more than 800 personnel aboard the Kearsarge to participate in Bold Alligator.