From the Sea - Synthetically?

The Marines, due to circumstances beyond their control, have let their amphibious assault warfare skills lapse while engaged in land wars in Afghanistan and Iraq during the past decade.

But Brig. Gen. Christopher Owens, deputy commanding general of the Camp Lejeune, N.C.- based II Marine Expeditionary Force, says he wants to help the Navy/Marine team revitalize their amphibious warfare skills through a series of exercises over the next couple of years called Bold Alligator, which I believe pays homage to the nickname given to Navy amphibious ships, Gator Freighters.

Owens wants to use synthetic exercises to train staffers through multiple simulation centers which will "provide in-depth analysis of landing timetables, weather conditions, fires effects, etc."

I know I sound like an Old Corps crank, but when I was stationed at Camp Pendleton, California from 1963 through early 1965, when we wanted to practice our amphibious skills, we did not have any truck with synthetic exercise. We got on real LCVPs, cruised out to real APAs, and then spent a week or so climbing down nets, back into those same LCVPs and then hitting some real beaches.

Heck, some weekends, just for fun, we'd cruise down to Coronado in an APA and hit the beach three or four times a day, amusing to no end the tourists staying at the Hotel del Coronado.

This practice came in quite handy when I, along with 1,500 or so buddies from 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, hit the beach for real in Danang, South Vietnam on July 4, 1965 -- a rather loony exercise where after dragging myself through the surf, famed AP photographer Horst Faas greeted me with the message, "Relax kid. There's no war here. Have a beer."

I hope that when Owens runs a real amphibious exercise, he sends me an invite. I love hitting beaches.

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