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Boxer: Fleet Response Plan in Action

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050504-05
Release Date: 5/4/2005 1:09:00 PM

By Journalist 1st Class Karen M. Golembieski, USS Boxer Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- For the third time in three years, USS Boxer (LHD 4), commanded by Capt. Thomas J. Culora, left on deployment April 29 to support U.S. national security objectives overseas.

Boxer will be training with U.S. allies in many parts of the world during this deployment, strengthening multinational efforts to fight the war on terrorism and prepare for future emergencies. Boxer’s readiness to fulfill this mission is a clear demonstration of the Chief of Naval Operations’ (CNO) Fleet Response Plan (FRP) in action.

“Boxer’s surge deployment is a vivid example of FRP,” Culora said. “Our primary mission is to support 7th Fleet exercises in the Western Pacific. These exercises are normally supported by forward deployed forces in Japan."

“By engaging Boxer, a mission-ready, surge-deployable asset, in these exercises, the fleet commander had the flexibility to employ USS Essex (LHD 2) in the global war on terrorism by deploying them to the Persian Gulf," Culora continued. "Essex can now reconstitute itself while Boxer fills the gaps. This response and flexibility demonstrated by both Boxer and Essex gives the Navy multiple courses of action and puts the right asset in the right place at the right time.”

In the past two years, Boxer has validated the strength and reality of the FRP.

Receiving word in late 2002, Boxer set sail Jan. 17, 2003, and spent six and one-half months supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom transporting, offloading and then back-loading equipment and personnel of Landing Force West, including 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Combat Engineer Battalion and 1st Tank Battalion. Boxer also carried the air control elements of Marine Air Group 16 (MAG) 16, Heavy Marine Helicopter Squadron 465 (HMH) 465, and Heavy Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM)165 and the combat service support element, Marine Corps Service Support Group 19. The ship and crew returned in late August 2003.

In November 2003, the crew was notified of a second surge deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom force rotation. Preparations were made, and the ship departed Jan. 15, 2004, this time providing aviation lift and support, ensuring Marine Corps aircraft were fully mission-capable and ready to effect force rotations when they arrived in Iraq. When the crew returned in late April, they were able to work on the ship’s upkeep and make preparations for the Board of Inspection and Survey, drawing on two deployments’ worth of experience. Now, a year after supporting OIF, Boxer is once again answering the call.

Cmdr. Mark F. Volpe, Boxer’s operations officer, said Boxer was the most logical choice for the present deployment.

“When the planners and schedulers took a look at the big picture of deployments and training cycles, Boxer was in the best position," Volpe said. "It’s been one year since we got back from the last deployment and it will be about another year after we get back before the next.”

Boxer is not carrying any embarked Marines this time, but will be embarking two Land Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) vehicles from Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 5 to exchange with two that are currently assigned to U.S. 7th Fleet but will be returned to San Diego for repair and upkeep. The LCACs will also be used for support of multiple bilateral exercises in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

“Exercise Talisman Sabre, between U.S. and Australian forces, is designed to train and test their ability to work together on a common mission,” he explained.

“For Exercise CARAT 05, we are participating in the Malaysian and Indonesian phases,” Volpe continued. “In these exercises, we are working with various partner nations. We ‘play’ once with each partner nation, and focus on exercises for Navy and marine forces in surface and amphibious warfare.”

Culora is enthusiastic about the prospects for success presented to the crew.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for the crew of Boxer," Culora said. "The exercises and training prospects, as well as the opportunity to see several interesting ports, will be the experience of a lifetime. We will be engaged in joint operations with our allies, work with interesting and different equipment, interact with several other foreign navies and their ships, and participate in community relations projects. It is an opportunity to grow both personally and professionally, and I am excited for the crew.”


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