U.S. Marine Corps reconnaissance teams participated in a two-week military operation with their Mexican counterparts on an island in the Pacific Ocean off the Baja peninsula.
The July 6-21, 2023, exercise Aztec Alligator 23 was a combined U.S. Marine amphibious assault exercise undertaken with Mexican Marines and Naval personnel, according to Lieutenant Colonel Bart Nagle, who led Marine and support personnel planning efforts for U.S. Marine Forces Northern Command (MARFORNORTH).
The 27 Marines from 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, at Camp Pendleton embarked aboard the ARM Usumacinta, a Mexican Newport-class amphibious assault ship. The team was comprised of a dismounted scout detachment along with a small, unmanned aircraft systems team and a reconnaissance operations center afloat, Lt. Col. Nagle stated in an after-action report dated August 9, 2023.
The Marines led a multiday reconnaissance mission along with Mexican Marine Corps Special Forces, which culminated in a Mexican amphibious brigade air and surface assault on the Santa Margarita Island training area.
Two U.S. Marine scout teams were inserted on the island by small boats and Mexican Navy helicopters. They conducted two nights of reconnaissance and surveillance of a simulated enemy force on the island. The teams reported to the U.S. Reconnaissance Operations Center and the Mexican Marine raid force commanders aboard the ARM Usumacinta.
The exercise was the first of a series of planned biennial U.S. Northern Command bilateral amphibious exercises executed by MARFORNORTH and hosted by the Mexican Navy and U.S. Marine Corps.