With just a few days left before the start of the biggest East Coast amphibious exercise in our recent history, I’d like to give you a few final thoughts.
Over the last year I’ve spent a great deal of time working with my Marine counterpart LtGen Denny Hejlik, Commander, Marine Forces Command, to build a strong relationship based on trust – a relationship we both believe embodies the true spirit of our Navy – Marine Corps team. And for any complex military operation, particularly an amphibious operation, trust is the glue that holds it all together.
Amphibious operations are not just about the Navy supporting Marines -- or vice versa -- but both Naval services forming a single team that can also, when required, integrate with the joint and combined force. Although we’ve been engaged in extended ground conflicts for the last decade, we have not been relieved of our requirement to conduct expeditionary operations from the sea; this essential mission, one of our core capabilities, will not go away anytime soon. As President Obama stated in his 5 January 2012 Defense Strategic Review, “our military will be leaner, but the world must know the United States is going to maintain our military superiority with armed forces that are agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats.”
Executing these operations successfully, as we’ve done so many times in our history, will always, repeat always, rely first and foremost on our ability to operate and fight as a Navy-Marine team. We’ve fought alongside each other for over 236 years – from the first Navy-Marine landing at Nassau in 1776, to the many amphibious assaults during WWII to the game-changing landing at Inchon in 1950 – this operation is certainly not new for us; in fact, it’s at the very core of who we are as Sailors and Marines (One Team, One Fight!).
Now, as we execute this exercise over the coming weeks it’s very important that we make full use of this tremendous opportunity to learn and improve. Exercises are not simply a means to an end. We need to push the envelope in every way possible to identify our gaps and weaknesses and then feed the lessons we learn back into our doctrine and TTPs (establish a continuous cycle of improvement). This exercise is not about proving we are the best in the world at what we do (although that’s certainly true!), it’s about learning how we can be better.
We’ve had a lot of good discussions about BA12 on this blog (here, here, here, here) and it’s now time to bring it all together. I’m very proud of the hard work and dedication from the entire BA12 team to get us to this point and look forward to a very successful exercise. Plan, rehearse, execute, and LEARN!
All the best, JCHjr