“Bold Alligator 2012″ drills 20,000 troops on US East Coast for Persian Gulf action

Tuesday, February 7, 2012
By Paul Martin

DEBKAfile
February 7, 2012

Some 20,000 marines, seamen and air crews from half a dozen countries, a US nuclear aircraft carrier strike group and three US Marine gunship carriers are practicing an attack on a fictitious mechanized enemy division which has invaded its neighbor.

It is the largest amphibian exercise seen in the West for a decade, staged to simulate a potential Iranian invasion of an allied Persian Gulf country and a marine landing on the Iranian coast. Based largely on US personnel and hardware, French, British, Italian, Dutch, Australian and New Zealand military elements are integrated in the drill.

Bold Alligator went into its operational phase Monday, Feb. 6, the same day as a large-scale exercise began in southern Iran opposite the Strait of Hormuz.

This simultaneity attests to the preparations for a US-Iranian showdown involving Israel behind the words on Feb. 5 of US President Barack Obama (“I don’t think Israel has decided whether to attack Iran”) and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Feb. 3 (“The war itself will be ten times as detrimental to the US.”).

Monday, Feb. 6, the US president ordered the tightening of sanctions by freezing Iranian assets in America and blocking the operations of Iranian banks including its central bank.

US Rear Adm. Kevin Scott and Brig. Gen. Christopher Owens are coordinating the exercise over large stretches of coastal terrain in Virginia, North Carolina and Florida and Atlantic Ocean from the USS Wasp amphibian helicopter carrier.

It is led by the USS Enterprisenuclear carrier with strike force alongside three amphibian helicopter carriers, the USS Wasp, the USS Boxer and the USS Kearsage. On their decks are 6,000 Marines, 25 fighter bombers and 65 strike and transport helicopters, mainly MV-22B Ospreys with their crews. Altogether 100 combat aircraft are involved.

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