USS San Diego
"Always Watchful"
Enabling Partnerships: Navy and Marine Corps partner with Malaysia for Amphibious Operations
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stacy M. Atkins Ricks, USS San Diego Public Affairs
SULU SEA (NNS) -- The amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22), the amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45) and the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit concluded the 2014 Malaysia - United States Amphibious Exercise in Malaysia, Sept. 2.

The nine-day long exercise, code-named MALUS AMPHEX, spanned from the Sulu Sea to the eastern beaches of Malaysia, aiming to help fortify the relationship between Malaysia and U.S. forces.

Leaders aboard San Diego emphasized the importance of building and enabling partnerships with nations such as Malaysia.

"Anytime you work with a foreign navy, whether it's right next door in Canada or over in the Sulu Sea, you are going to learn things from them that you wouldn't normally know," said Capt. John Menoni, San Diego's commanding officer. "We got to see how they do business and they see how we do business."

The integrated operation also provided Malaysian and U.S. forces an opportunity for bilateral training with a focus on amphibious force development.

"The Malaysians are interested in a Marine Corps like the U.S. and the development of a rapid response system," said Lt. j.g. Joshua Paulaitis, MALUS AMPHEX Navy Liaison for Commander, Amphibious Squadron Five.

MALUS AMPHEX consisted of combined security force training, civil engineering and construction, and humanitarian services such as the Medical and Dental Civic Action Program. Both teams trained side-by-side in an effort to enrich the local community and reinforce regional and international security.

Additionally, San Diego and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) showcased their land and sea capabilities during ship-to-shore amphibious demonstrations. San Diego's landing craft air cushion (LCAC) and rigid-hull inflatable boats (RHIBs), offered the transportation of personnel and supplies while the MEU provided expertise on construction, engineering and force protection.

"This is the Marines' first time in a long time being on this side of Malaysia," said Paulaitis. "It provided great sustainment and ground training for the 11th MEU in a different environment."

Throughout MALUS AMPHEX the focal point remained on strengthening partnerships between the nations for a lasting effect. According to senior leaders, both Malaysian and U.S forces gained enhanced training capabilities, a strengthened security partnership and a better rapport between the two nations.

"This was a true example of Navy and Marine Corps amphibious capabilities and I believe it set the tone for future exercises with Malaysia," said Paulaitis. "I can see us doing a lot more exercises with the Malaysians and from the responses I received after the final demonstration they also had a positive experience."

San Diego, Comstock and the 11th MEU are currently on a deployment with the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group to promote peace and freedom of the seas by providing security and stability in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.
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