A Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey takes off from the flight deck of USS Boxer (LHD 4) during exercise Tiger Strike, Oct. 2. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Anaid Banuelos Rodriguez)

SOUTH CHINA SEA - Marines and Sailors from the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) participated in three exercises across the South China Sea to build partnerships and enhance relationships, beginning Oct. 2.

"The work that this expeditionary strike group team is doing out here has been nothing short of exceptional," said Rear Adm. Fred Kacher, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 7. "They are showcasing the maneuverability and flexibility of our 'Blue-Green' team as they work with our allies and partners to build combat readiness. It is hard to overstate the value of the relationships our Sailors and Marines are forging one person at a time in this important and diverse region."

The three exercises allowed the Boxer ARG and embarked 11th MEU to demonstrate the United States’ commitment to ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific by working with allied and partner nations in this important region of the world.

“Throughout our deployment, our Navy and Marines Corps team has trained together in different areas of the world, building partnerships with allies and partners in the Middle East, and now here in the Western Pacific,” said Col. Fridrik Fridriksson, commanding officer, 11th MEU. “Any time we can get an opportunity to work with and learn from another military organization, we know we’re going to come away a better team.”

The three exercises are: Tiger Strike – Malaysia; CARAT Brunei; and KAMANDAG 3 - Philippines. Each exercise represented a different opportunity for the amphibious task force to conduct training with each nation’s armed forces and tackle different challenges together.

Tiger Strike featured an aerial insertion of forces from the USS Boxer, after which the Marines of the 11th MEU and Malaysian Armed Forces conducted jungle warfare training at Kota Belud Training Range, Oct. 2-5.

During CARAT Brunei, short for Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training, Marines launched from the USS Harpers Ferry on Oct. 7 and conducted an amphibious landing using assault amphibious vehicles, before moving inland to conduct more jungle warfare and combat medical training alongside the Royal Brunei Armed Forces.

From the USS John P. Murtha, the Boxer ARG/11th MEU team also participated in exercise KAMANDAG 3 in the Republic of the Philippines, which began Oct. 9. During this Philippine-led bilateral exercise, a battery of artillery Marines and a company of light armored reconnaissance Marines from Battalion Landing Team 3/5 trained with the Philippine Armed Forces at Colonel Ernesto P. Ravina Air Base.

"These three exercises, and more importantly the relationships we’ve formed, will enable us to continue to train with important partners in the region and practice a style of warfare the U.S. military hasn’t utilized in a long time," said Capt. Jason Burns, commander, Amphibious Squadron 5. "In a lot of ways we are re-implementing the ideas that made us successful in the past. We’re more ready now, together, than we were before.”

The Boxer ARG/11th MEU is deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to support regional stability, reassure partners and allies, and maintain a presence postured to respond to any crisis ranging from humanitarian assistance to contingency operations. The ARG/MEU departed their home port of San Diego for a regularly scheduled deployment on May 1, and entered the U.S. 7th Fleet on Sept. 22 after roughly two months deployed to Central Command’s area of operations.

U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Kenneth Gentry, a howitzer section chief with Alpha Battery, Battalion Landing Team 3/5, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, waits to load a 105 mm high explosive round into a Philippine Marine Corps M102 105 mm howitzer during exercise KAMANDAG 3 at Colonel Ernesto Ravina Air Base, Oct. 15. (U.S. Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Donald Holbert)

U.S. Marines and Soldiers from the Royal Brunei Armed Forces practice procedures after unloading from an amphibious assault vehicle, Oct. 8. (U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Jason Monty)

A U.S. Marine with Lima Company, Battalion Landing Team 3/5, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and a member of the Malaysian Armed Forces shake hands during exercise Tiger Strike training, Oct. 2. (U.S. Marine Corps/Dalton S. Swanbeck)

A landing craft, air cushion (LCAC) attached to Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 5 departs USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26) during exercise KAMANDAG 3, Oct. 9. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Kyle Carlstrom)

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 1st Class Kyle Wyrock directs a Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier II aboard USS Boxer (LHD 4) during exercise Tiger Strike. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Jessica Ann Hattell)