LAHAD DATU, Malaysia --
Two nations joined forces and jumped in the same boat in the name of enhanced maritime skills and infantry operational excellence.
Approximately 320 U.S. Marines with Echo Company, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalian, 1st Marines, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, trained alongside Malaysian Armed Forces Aug. 27 to Sept. 2 during Malaysia-United States Amphibious Exercise 2014 on and off the coast of Malaysia. Designed to improve the amphibious readiness and interoperability of the Malaysian forces, the exercise concluded in a company-sized amphibious assault Sept. 2.
Outside of amphibious-based operations, the intensely-planned engagement partnered Marines and Malaysians for platoon- and company-sized movements, rapid-response planning drills, martial arts, shipboard-familiarization, and jungle warfare training.
“Our current conflicts … have taken us away from jungle warfare,” said 1st Lt. James Lynch, a platoon commander with Echo Co. and a Montsford, Massachusetts native. “The Malaysians have a lot of experience, and we’ve gotten some training from them, [including] things to eat, things you can’t eat, how to trap animals, jungle survival, and then jungle patrolling. It’s different from the patrolling we’re used to because of the limited visibility.”
This was a unique training opportunity for both Echo Co. Marines and members of the Malaysian Armed Forces. According to Capt. Larry Iverson Jr., the commanding officer of Echo Co. and a Havelock, North Carolina native, this was the first time many members of either force had the opportunity to interact with a foreign nation.
“I think the Marines learned a lot of things out here,” he said. “Probably one of the most important things is developing their communication skills. It’s not always easy working with another nation, so getting that combined operation together I think is important and I think we were very successful out here integrating with the Malaysians. I think they learned how to tailor their expectations and tailor how they work with other units and nations.”
During shipboard familiarization, more than 120 members of the MAF boarded the USS Comstock where they paired up with each platoon of Echo Co. Just as they did on the beach, the Malaysians toured the ship and showed they were ready to take everything in.
“They’re extremely eager to learn, so I’m very impressed with that,” said Lynch. “Along with that, they’re highly motivated; they show up ready to go and don’t care about breaks for lunch or anything; they just want to learn, and that’s something you don’t see often with other militaries around the world, so I’m fairly impressed.”
With this being the first field operation for Echo Co. since the beginning of their deployment with the 11th MEU, Iverson says the standard is set high for future operations.
“There’s a lot of good camaraderie between the Malaysian soldiers and the U.S. Marines,” he said. “The Marines are going to walk out of this with the expectation of having a lot more fun on this deployment and things to look forward to. I think they’ll be more excited for the next operation.”
After a week of honing skills and forging relationships with the Malaysian Armed Forces, the Marines re-embarked aboard the USS Comstock upon completion of the company attack and closing ceremony of the exercise.
MALUS AMPHEX 14 is a realistic and challenging exercise that brings service members closer and improves both nations’ ability to work bilaterally, which better prepares both nations to provide regional and global security.