The Boxer Amphibious Ready Group, comprised of USS Boxer (LHD 4), USS New Orleans (LPD 18) and USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), along with HMCS Vancouver (FF 331) and HMCS Calgary (FF 335), steam in formation Nov. 5. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Jesse D. Monford)

SAN DIEGO - The Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) participated in a Task Group Exercise (TGEX) off the coast of Southern California from Oct. 19 to Nov. 6.

TGEX is a U.S.-Canada multi-warfare exercise designed to train units in various mission areas including amphibious warfare, air defense, anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, and maritime interdiction operations.

Engagement with Canada is a component of the U.S. Navy's theater security cooperation activities. Exercises like TGEX support U.S. 3rd Fleet's (C3F) goal to increase the ability to respond to crises and protect the collective maritime interests of the U.S., its allies and partners. Routine exercises with international partners help strengthen relationships.

"[TGEX] consists of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and the 13th [Marine Expeditionary Unit] working with our coalition partners to learn how to work in a heavy operational environment," said Lt. Cmdr. Christopher VanLoenen, operations officer, Commander, Amphibious Squadron 1. "It gives us the chance to learn how to operate together."

"I think [TGEX] reinforces our partnership," said Maj. Troy Maa, Canadian Fleet Pacific, air officer and Canadian liaison officer. "When out with any task group, you need your three areas of warfare coverage, which are air, submarine and surface."

Each ship ran through a series of drills that tested the Boxer ARG's and the RCN's ability to respond to different scenarios such as general quarters, non-combatant evacuation operations, and search and seizure operations.

"[Canada participated] primarily as an anti-submarine warfare asset," said Maa. "We're here to add that layer of complexity to this exercise."

The U.S. and Canada regularly participate in exercises together, the most recent being Pacific Partnership and Trident Fury.

Maa also emphasized on how the Boxer ARG's Composite Training Unit Exercise and TGEX are great training evolutions for Sailors on both sides, as well as Marines.

"I think that this is a great opportunity to come out and work with you guys because often, when we deploy, we're going to be working with the United States Navy," said Maa.

VanLoenen added that TGEX gave Sailors a chance to feel what it is like operate in the 5th fleet area of responsibility.

"We're learning how to deal with a little bit more stressful, heavier op-tempo than what we're used to and learning to become more operational [as a coalition team]," said VanLoenen.

Participants of TGEX included Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 3; Commander, Amphibious Squadron (CPR) 1; amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18), and dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49). Royal Canadian units included Canadian Fleet Pacific, Halifax-class frigates HMCS Calgary (FFH 335) and HMCS Vancouver (FFH 331) and Victoria-class submarine HMCS Chicoutimi (SSK 879).