US Marines and Sailors from the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) completed an amphibious landing exercise in Djibouti on 15 August.
Amphibious assault vehicles from the 11th MEU conducted an amphibious assault after departing the well deck of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry during an exercise to seize a fictional enemy objective on Djibouti’s Arta Beach.
Maj. Victor Garcia, India Co., Battalion Landing Team 3/5 company commander, explained that amphibious assaults are one of the MEU’s primary missions; a capability that makes the MEU one of the most lethal and responsive crisis response forces in the U.S. Department of Defense arsenal.
“Our time in Djibouti was extremely valuable for our Marines,” said Garcia. “Our goal was to ensure our gun crews are properly trained in the weapons systems aboard the amphibious assault vehicles, and we successfully accomplished that task.”
Amphibious assault vehicles are one of the oldest and most reliable platforms in the Marine Corps. AAVs, or “tracks,” are essentially floating tanks that can seize or secure a beach head and enable more forces to flow ashore in the event of combat operations. Cmdr. Janice Pollard, Harpers Ferry’s commanding officer, explained that mission success of the AAVs is a primary mission of an LSD.
“These types of missions are what this ship is built for,” said Pollard. “The well deck houses the amphibious assault vehicles so that we can get them close to shore and launch them to conduct their mission ashore.”
The 11th MEU consists of the Command Element; the Aviation Combat Element comprised of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 163; the Ground Combat Element comprised of Battalion Landing Team 3/5; and the Logistics Combat Element comprised of Combat Logistics Battalion 11. Boxer ARG is comprised of amphibious assault ship USS Boxer, amphibious transport dock USS John P Murtha, and amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry.
The Boxer ARG/11th MEU is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the Western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points. The ARG/MEU departed their home port of San Diego for a regularly scheduled deployment, May 1.