Boxer ARG completes amphibious landing drill in Djibouti

AAVs assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) cruise towards land after exiting the well deck of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) on August 15. Photo: US Navy

Marines and sailors assigned to the amphibious ready group (ARG) led by USS Boxer have completed an amphibious landing exercise in Djibouti.

Amphibious assault vehicles (AAVs) from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) descended on Djibouti’s Arta Beach after departing the well deck of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) during an exercise to seize a fictional enemy objective.

Maj. Victor Garcia, India Co., Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 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 US defense department 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.”

Boxer ARG is comprised of amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), amphibious transport dock USS John P Murtha (LPD 26), and amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49).

The group is deployed to the US 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.

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