CAMP LEJUNE, N..C. (WAVY) - Little Creek-based sailors from the Navy's Expeditionary Combat Command have been busy all week patrolling the inland waterways of Amberland in preparation for a huge amphibious invasion set to take place next week.
If you're wondering where Amberland is you won't find it on a map because it doesn't exist. Amberland is a fictitious country. The actual location is Camp Lejune, North Carolina where U.S. and coalition forces are conducting a huge amphibious exercise called Bold Alligator 2012 .
Riverine Group 1 is in command of the Navy's expeditionary forces for Bold Alligator 2012. The group invited WAVY.com to ride along with them in their high performance boats for an exercise last week in Mile Hammock Bay, North Carolina.
The Riverines bear no resemblance to the traditional "blue water Navy" in their heavily armed, high performance boats. Patrolling inland waters, or littoral zones as the military calls them, they serve as an advance team for the fleet offshore.
Captain Chris Halton, Commander of RIVGRU-1, said, "We are working with the host nation's security forces to maintain freedom of navigation. Ah, to keep the insurgent activity off the waterways..."
The host nation in this exercise is really a part of Camp Lejune, but when the mission is real, so is the potential for danger.
PO Alan Mowder, with RIVGRU-1, said, "It's stressful, very stressful...There's a lot to be looking out for...other boats, all your gunners, everything that's going on around you, objects in the water. Anything can be out there."
"The Riverine sailors are trained. They're an offensive combat, armed force. Their mission is to seek out...and destroy the enemy. Ah, they have a lot of unique skill sets and also unique equipment," Halton explained.
The small boats they patrol in are fast, highly maneuverable and ideal for pursuit, combat or evasive action. The boats are also outfitted with weaponry.
"..in the back here, we've got a 50-caliber machine gun. In the front, we have a mark-44 machine gun and an M2-40," Mowder explained.
In spite of all that firepower, operating in the littorals in such small boats does make the team vulnerable to attacks from shore. But, the sailors who volunteered for this duty think they have the best job in the Navy.
Mowder said, "I'm definitely proud to be doing it. It's a lot different than what the rest of the Navy's doing. It's not your normal job."
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