USS BOXER, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Boxer (LHD 4) Expeditionary Strike Group (BOXESG) and the Indian navy's Western Fleet began Exercise Malabar 2006 Oct. 25 off the southwest coast of India.
The purpose of the multinational exercise, which focuses on a number of naval mission areas, is to strengthen ties between American, Canadian and Indian forces, as well as enhance the cooperative security relationship between the nations involved.
More than 6,500 U.S. Navy personnel will take part in Exercise Malabar, which runs through Nov. 5.
"The United States and India share democratic traditions, and we share seafaring traditions," said Capt. David Angood, commander of BOXESG and Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 5. "We are natural partners and friends, and look forward to continuing to strengthen the bonds and personal relationships between our two navies and advancing into more complex operational and strategic areas that go beyond tactical exercises."
The Indian Western Fleet commander, noting that each Malabar exercise increases bonds and readiness between the forces, echoed these thoughts.
"During each Malabar exercise, we try to take it up a notch from the previous," said the flag officer commanding the Indian Western Fleet, Rear Adm. Anup Singh. He added that safety is the top priority and open lines of communication are vital.
During the exercise, the three nations' ships will work together in a variety of functional skill areas, including force protection drills; visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS); formation steaming, coordinated surface fire support, amphibious landing, live-fire events for attached aircraft, torpedo firing events and anti-submarine warfare training.
Thirteen naval assets will be involved in the exercise from the three nations, as well as Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), Special Operations Capable (SOC). This is the first time that a U.S. Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) will participate and lead the exercise; the exercise, in general, will focus on expeditionary warfare.
Several different personnel exchanges will occur throughout the exercise. Thirty-one Indian navy sailors will train aboard Boxer with the 2/4 Weapons Company of the 15th MEU (SOC) on weapons tactics, physical training and vehicle integration.
Malabar 2006 also incorporates the Canadian navy for the first time with the frigate HMCS Ottawa (FFH 341), and U.S. Coast Guard with the USCGC Midgett (WHEC 726), which are both part of BOXESG.
Boxer is the flag ship 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.
For related news, visit the Commander, Amphibious Force, U.S. 7th Fleet Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/ctf76/.