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BOXESG, Indian Western Fleet Complete Malabar '06

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS061113-17
Release Date: 11/13/2006 11:05:00 AM

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Joshua Martin, USS Boxer Public Affairs

ABOARD USS BOXER, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Boxer (LHD 4) Expeditionary Strike Group (BOXESG) and the Indian navy’s Western Fleet successfully completed Malabar 2006 off the Southwest coast of India Nov. 5.

The purpose of the multinational exercise, which focused on a number of naval mission areas, was to strengthen ties between American, Canadian and Indian forces, as well as enhance the cooperative security relationship between the nations involved.

The forces worked together in a variety of functional skill areas, including force protection drills, formation steaming, coordinated surface fire support, amphibious landing, live-fire events for attached aircraft, torpedo firing events and anti-submarine warfare training.

Thirteen ships participated in the exercise, as well as Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) (Special Operations Capable) deployed aboard Boxer, and Indian Soldiers assigned to the 9th Battalion of the Sikh Light Infantry. It was the first time a U.S. Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) led the exercise.

“Malabar ‘06 was a success,” said Lt. Jonathan Shannon, action officer for Malabar ‘06, and operations officer for Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 5. “We incorporated an ESG for the first time and included the full spectrum of its capabilities. Malabar ‘06 stepped up to a new level of interoperability between nations.”

The exercise was divided into three phases. The first phase focused on integration. U.S. Marines and Indian soldiers trained together aboard Boxer and ashore, while Sailors from both nations trained in various weapons and live-fire exercises.

During the second phase, BOXESG pulled into several Indian ports, including Mumbai and Goa. The stop offered BOXESG a chance to experience Indian culture, re-supply and support a Habitat for Humanity project. The visit also gave leadership a chance to discuss future Malabar exercises and interoperability between the three nation’s armed forces.

Malabar ‘06 concluded with a “War-at-Sea” phase, which split the forces into two international blue and gold teams. The blue team simulated a friendly force providing aid to a disaster-stricken nation, while the gold team simulated an enemy force attacking them. During the exercise, both teams tested their response capabilities and ability to work with each other.

A main goal of Malabar ’06 was to build on the complexity and intensity of previous exercises, while incorporating the strategic and tactical requirements of an ESG.

“I thought this Malabar exercise went exceptionally well,” said Capt. David Angood, commander of BOXESG and commodore of PHIBRON 5. “Everything we did was at an advanced level for this type of exercise.”

Among the many training exercises during Malabar ’06, visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) was emphasized because of the three nation’s common goal against piracy and smuggling operations. The training included joint boarding, non-compliant boarding techniques, and VBSS via helicopter.

“This year’s Malabar included the full spectrum of expeditionary operations,” said Shannon. “It introduced the Indian navy to new warfare areas and broadened the interoperability between participants.”

The addition of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Midgett (WHEC 726) and Indian Coast Guard Cutter Samar allowed for the exchange of Coast Guard practices between nations in maritime law enforcement, anti-piracy operations, pollution control, search and rescue, and VBSS support.

“We brought some capabilities that allowed us to communicate with the Indians, as well as other coalition partners,” said Angood. “We were able to practice that and hopefully develop that the next time Malabar happens.”

Boxer is the flagship for the Boxer Expeditionary Strike Group (BOXESG), operating out of San Diego, which is reporting operationally to Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7/Task Force (CTF) 76, the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious task force.

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