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Marines practice amphibious war, storm US beaches

Steve Helber / AP

A LCAC loaded with artillery and trucks approaches the well deck during operations aboard the Amphibious Assault Ship USS Wasp in support of Operation Bold Alligator off the coast of Jacksonville, N.C. on Feb. 4, 2012. Thousands of Marines are storming U.S. shores to train for a more modern version of the well-known beach assaults conducted during World War II.

The Associated Press reports aboard the USS WASP: 

Gregory N. Juday / U.S. Navy via Reuters

Amphibious assault vehicles (AAV) from the amphibious transport dock ship USS Oak Hill make their way toward the shore near Camp Lejeune on Feb. 6, 2012.

A small group of Marines trudged onto the beach sands in pitch-black night with an armada of U.S. Navy warships sailing just off the shore. Their mission: root out insurgents that threatened to attack another American force to the south.

The careful operation under cover of darkness wasn't an assault in the Middle East or Asia. It was a training exercise on the coast of Virginia and North Carolina, designed to return thousands of Marines to their amphibious roots and train for a more modern version of the well-known beach assaults conducted during World War II.

Military officials say the operation being conducted in Virginia and North Carolina is the largest amphibious training exercise they've attempted in at least a decade. Read the full story.

Paul J. Richards / AFP - Getty Images

Flight Deck Division Officer Victor Lange looks out the flight tower window as weather stops flight operations aboard the USS Wasp (LHD-1) on Feb. 5, 2012.

Paul J. Richards / AFP - Getty Images

US Marines march to board two board Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion Iron Horse helicopters aboard the USS Wasp on Feb. 4, 2012.

Steve Helber / AP

Marines help dig out an artillery piece that was stuck in the sand as it was unloaded from a Navy LCAC on Feb. 6, 2012.