An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : Media : News : News Article View
NEWS | Nov. 23, 2015

U.S. Marines, Malaysian Soldiers Complete Malaysia-United States Amphibious Exercise 2015

By Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos

TANDUO. Malaysia -- Darkness fills the confined space. The aroma of exhaust and burning fuel is in the air. Some rest their eyes while others bow their heads mentally preparing. 

Suddenly the sound of metallic tracks making contact with the beach catches everyone’s attention. 

“We’re on the beach,” shouts Lance Cpl. John Figueroa over the sounds of the screeching tracks and roaring engine. 

Everyone inside grips their rifles tight and adjusts their helmets in preparation for what they know is coming.

“Dropping ramp,” shouts Figueroa. There is a burst of intense light, and, for a moment, everyone inside is blinded. They quickly compose themselves.

The ramp hits the sand with a thud, and U.S. Marines with Malaysian soldiers burst into action. 

This was the scene at the culminating training event for Malaysia-United States Amphibious Exercise 2015, a four-day-long bilateral training exercise between U.S. Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and the Malaysian Armed Forces.

The exercise aimed to strengthen military cooperation and interoperability in the planning and execution of amphibious operations between the two countries.

“The relationship between [U.S. military] and the Malaysian military are essential to theater security in the Western Pacific,” said Brig. Gen. Christopher J. Mahoney, deputy commander of Marine Forces Pacific, during the opening ceremony. “Exercise like these ensure we continue to build on the foundation of a strong working relationship.” 

Training included amphibious operations, jungle survival, weapons and tactics familiarization, and cultural exchange between Kilo Company, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 15th MEU, and Malaysian soldiers.

Almost immediately after arriving on the beach, Malaysian soldiers were geared up and getting acquainted with the AAV7A1 Assault Amphibious Vehicles, or AAVs.

“They were mostly excited to see the tracks,” said Sgt. Russell Bloxsom, an AAV section chief with Kilo Co., BLT 3/1. “They had never seen them before, so they asked a lot of questions and took a lot of photos.”

Bloxsom and his Marines taught the Malaysian soldiers the capabilities, limitations, and how AAVs are used in combat.

“They picked up everything we taught them fast,” Bloxsom said. “Mostly, I think they were surprised at the many uses of the [AAVs].”

After getting a firm understanding of the AAV, Marines and Malaysian soldiers paired up and began sharing infantry tactics and rehearsing for an amphibious beach assault.

“The first day we did a beach assault to show them what it should look like,” said Cpl. Kevin Ta, a team leader with Kilo Co. “After that, we integrated a fire team in with one of their squads so we could break down the basics of a beach assault.”

While the Marines were integrated into the squads, their role was mainly to provide guidance when needed. The Malaysian soldiers planned their scheme of maneuver and were responsible for its execution. 

“For never having worked with [AAVs] before they did really well,” Ta said. “They put the tracks where they wanted them and their scheme of maneuver looked good.”

In addition to the amphibious operations, the exercise also included jungle survival training led by the Malaysian soldiers.

The training included building shelters, traps, snares, fires, as well as locating edible vegetation, and fresh water. 

“The training was great. I didn’t know there was so many terrains you had to prepare for in the jungle,” said Lance Cpl. Gary Gomez, a mortarman with Kilo Co. “The jungle is very giving, but it can be just as unforgiving if you don’t respect it.”

During the course, the Malaysian soldiers taught the Marines how to prepare meals such as monitor lizard, python, bats, birds, turtles, and monkeys. At the conclusion of the course, Marines were presented with a feast of all the animals prepared in various ways.

“You’d be surprised at how tasty those animals are,” Gomez said. “It’s nice to know that if I ever find myself lost in the jungle I can at least count on having a good meal.”

The exercise also allotted time for cultural exchange between the two militaries, which included friendly matches of volleyball, American football, and a version of baseball that used a wooden bat fashioned from a log and soccer ball.

“For me, that was the most rewarding part,” Ta said. “I’ve worked with foreign militaries before, but never with the Malaysians. It was great to take the afternoon off and just learn from each other and just hang out.”

Marines and Malaysian soldiers traded personal gear, such as rank and shirts, to remember each other by. The cultural exchange ended with the two services coming together to break bread and enjoy a barbecued meal.

On the final day of the training, Malaysian soldiers with Marines showcased what they had learned in a final amphibious beach assault, which was overseen by Col. Vance L. Cryer, commanding officer of the 15th MEU, and senior officers with the Malaysian armed forces.

Standing on a nearby hill, they observed what can only be described as controlled chaos. 

A simulated battle space filled with gun fire, multi-colored smoke providing concealment for troops closing in on the opposition, pyrotechnic explosions signifying mortar impacts, and the shouting of orders.

After several minutes of intense training, laughter replaced the sounds of the guns firing, and when the smoke cleared, all that could be seen was Malaysian soldiers high-fiving each other and fist bumping Marines. They had successfully taken the beach.

“If we are going to operate together here in the Western Pacific, then we are going to have to integrate and build on these foundations of training,” said Cryer during a speech at the closing ceremony. “These core skills of discipline, communication, movement to contact, and esprit de corps are what will make the difference in the fight.”

Before loading onto AAVs and departing, last-minute photos and embraces where exchanged between Marines and Malaysian soldiers. Although the training lasted only four days, the lessons learned and relationships made are sure to last.
CONNECT WITH USINDOPACOM

ENGAGE & CONNECT MORE WITH PACOM

                                                 

IN THE USINDOPACOM NEWS
Strengthening Military-Civilian Relations and Partnerships on Global Health Security
Civilians, defense and security partners within the Indo-Pacific region participate in collaborative panel discussions during the Military Civilian Health Security Summit co-hosted by the Australian Defence Force and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in Sydney, June 17, 2024. Established in 2018, the MCHSS symbolizes a unified commitment to address global health security challenges and provides an opportunity for participants to share valuable insights and enhance regional readiness by improving coordination and collaboration between military and civilian entities. USINDOPACOM is committed to enhancing stability in the Indo-Pacific region by promoting security cooperation, encouraging peaceful development, responding to contingencies and deterring aggression. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Austin Riel)
June 16, 2024 - SYDNEY — The Australian Defence Force and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command co-hosted the Military Civilian Health Security Summit in Sydney, June 16-17, bringing together 23 Indo-Pacific partner nations, international organizations,...

U.S. Indo-Pacific Commander Travels to Indonesia
Adm. Samuel J. Paparo, commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, conducts an inspection with Vice Adm. Erwin S. Aldedharma, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Navy, during his first official visit to Indonesia as USINDOPACOM commander, June 13, 2024. The U.S. and Indonesia share a deep and enduring strategic partnership, anchored in shared values of democracy and a commitment to the rules-based international order. USINDOPACOM is committed to enhancing stability in the Indo-Pacific region by promoting security cooperation, encouraging peaceful development, responding to contingencies, deterring aggression and, when necessary, fighting to win. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class John Bellino)
June 14, 2024 - JAKARTA, Indonesia — Adm. Samuel J. Paparo, commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, visited Indonesia June 11-14, to meet with senior military and government officials as the two nations celebrate the 75th anniversary of...

Joint Task Force Micronesia Holds Assumption of Command Ceremony
Adm. Samuel J. Paparo, commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, and Rear Adm. Gregory C. Huffman exchange salutes during the Joint Task Force – Micronesia assumption of command ceremony on Andersen Air Force Base, June 14, 2024. During the ceremony, Rear Adm. Gregory C. Huffman assumed command, and will serve as the first two-star admiral in the area in over 70 years. The establishment of Joint Task Force – Micronesia reflects the commitment of Department of Defense to support our pacing challenge throughout the region and bolster homeland defense.
June 14, 2024 - Adm. Samuel J. Paparo, commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, presided over the establishment ceremony of Joint Task Force-Micronesia (JTF-M) at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam on June 14, 2024, where Rear Adm. Gregory C...

613 Air Operations Center strengthens ties with Japan’s Air Defense Command in landmark agreement
240612-F-UX259-1023 (June 12, 2024) Japan Air Self-Defense Force Col. Kohei Kurachi, Commander of the JASDF Air Defense Command Air Operations Center, and U.S. Air Force Col. Chris McFarland, Commander of the 613 Air Operations Center, sign the AOC and ADC standard operating procedure agreement, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Jun. 12, 2024. The two air forces work together to increase readiness, interoperability and support peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Rob Webb)
June 13, 2024 - In a move aimed at bolstering bilateral cooperation, the U.S. Air Force 613th Air Operations Center has signed an agreement with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force Air Defense Command at Pacific Air Forces Headquarters...

Remains of Korean War Soldier to be buried in Wrightstown, New Jersey
June 13, 2024 - The remains of Army Pfc. Anthony J. Lopa, a Soldier killed during the Korean War, will be interred June 28 at Brig. Gen. William C. Doyle Veteran Memorial Cemetery, Wrightstown, New Jersey. Maxwell Funeral Home, Little Egg...