A world away from Normandy, troops practice modern-day beach landing

By evening the amphibious assault vehicles from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit push inland, where they encounter simulated enemy resistance.

DJIBOUTI — The world may never see another amphibious landing like the ones that characterized the U.S. war effort in World War II.

Next month is the 70th anniversary of D-Day, when 5,000 ships and landing craft transported 176,000 Allied troops directly to the beaches of Normandy.

During that war,a series of other massive landings were conducted in North Africa, Italy and across the Pacific. In the Korean War, troops were also moved in this way.

Today, the U.S. Marines maintain and exercise the capability to conduct “forced-entry operations,” but changes in technology have led to sweeping changes in tactics.

“We would never again do a kind of a Tarawa landing where we are landing into the face of the enemy defenses,” Brig. Gen. Gregg Olson, commander of Task Force 51/59, said last month, referring to the three-day battle in the Gilbert Islands in 1943 in which more than 3,500 were killed or wounded.

Olson, who is in charge of the amphibious forces deployed to U.S. 5th Fleet, said in an interview during an exercise here in mid-April that an amphibious landing today would likely involve using the inherent maneuverability of the U.S. military and essentially landing where the enemy is not.

“Move to the sound of the guns, but do so in a smarter way,” Olson said.

In this series of pictures on a beach in Djibouti, a location frequently used for Marine Corps exercises, members of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit come ashore from the dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall to practice a modern-day beach landing. The exercise ran from April 15 through the end of the month.


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