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Boxer Builds a Strong Defense

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050531-02
Release Date: 5/31/2005 9:39:00 AM

By Photographer’s Mate Airman Rudy Polach, USS Boxer Public Affairs

ABOARD USS BOXER (NNS) -- USS Boxer's (LHD 4) Ship’s Self-Defense Force (SSDF) scored 100 percent during an evaluation conducted by Afloat Training Group Western Pacific in March.

Now, Boxer, which deployed April 29, is raising its standards when it comes to the Ship’s Self-Defense Force, according to commanding officer Capt. Thomas J. Culora.

“While keeping the ship and her crew safe is the responsibility of everyone, SSDF plays a major role in maintaining that security,” he said. “In times like these, the threat of terrorism is always there. It doesn’t matter where you are. We have to be prepared and ready to respond to any situation.”

Since deploying, Boxer has increased their SSDF team from approximately 140 to 260 members and amplified its training. Boxer’s SSDF not only trains with the weapons they carry, but also in hand-to-hand combat and shipboard security. Members of SSDF go through an academy that teaches them force protection fundamentals, sentry watch standing, small-arms fundamentals, tactical movements, personal vehicle searches and other security standards.

“Sailors need to be able to properly defend themselves for the safety of the ship and for themselves,” said Gunner’s Mate 1st Class (SW) Celestino Martinez. “You can’t have people protecting the ship if they are not comfortable with the weapons they use. If you train like you fight, you can react on time.”

Before anyone can be part of SSDF, they must first familiarize themselves with the force's weapons, including everything from .50-caliber machine guns to 9mm pistols. Individuals must be prepared to assemble and disassemble, load and unload, and clear a jam from any of these weapons.

Force protection teams are also taught to deal with issues such as when to use force to control a situation. They are taught to use sound reasoning and to establish appropriate security counter-actions in situations that are tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving.

“SSDF training is important to Boxer and the Navy because it gives our Sailors the knowledge that they need to be prepared for any threat that may arise,” said Master-At-Arms 1st Class Darrell Pierce, who helps to train SSDF members.

Boxer, homeported in San Diego, is currently deployed in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to participate in Exercise Talisman Saber 2005.

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