USS BOXER, At Sea - Amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) is hosting exercise Iron Fist 2013 (IF13) from Feb. 4-15 with elements from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) while underway off the coast of California.
During exercise IF13, a combined total of more than 500 members of the 13th MEU and JGSDF spend approximately three weeks participating in bilateral training which improved interoperability, enhanced military-to-military relations and sharpen skills essential to crisis response.
During the exercise, Boxer serves as a launching pad for a simulated raid on San Clemente Island by both military aircraft and military amphibious assault vehicles.
"The main goal of this exercise is to improve interoperability and cooperation with Japan's forces; not just naval and marine but also with Japan to exchange knowledge," said Cmdr. Russ Raines, Boxer's air boss. "It's an amphibious event, which means we will be moving personnel and equipment from land to sea and then back to land again."
The event is primarily between U.S. Marines and the JGSDF but Boxer Sailors will benefit from the exercise as well.
"Sailors on the deck plates get a unique opportunity to work side by side with not only the Marines but the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force," said Raines. "I think this operation will put us ahead of the game in a sense that Boxer is still early in her work-up pre-deployment cycle and we're already conducting some graduate-level events."
Overall IF13 demonstrates the unique capabilities of Boxer working with the 13th MEU to rapidly respond to contingencies in coordination with the JGSDF.