LAHAD DATU, Malaysia (NNS) -- Sailors aboard amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) and Marines with the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) joined members of the Malaysian armed forces for Exercise Tiger Strike 16 in Lahad Datu, Malaysia, November 10-13.

Tiger Strike 16, formally known as Malaysia-United States Amphibious Exercise (MALFEX), is a Malaysia-led, bilateral training exercise between the Malaysian forces and U.S. forces with emphasis on increasing combat readiness and conducting amphibious operations within the context of a stability and security operations. Tiger Strike allows participating forces to share their best training practices across a wide variety of military skills, conduct a bilateral amphibious landing, and improve communication and coordination.

Makin Island Commanding Officer Capt. Mark Melson said the amphibious assault ship brought added training value to the exercise.

"With Makin Island's ship-to-shore capability, U.S. and Malaysian forces were able to rehearse the planning and execution of a variety of amphibious scenarios, whether that was a combat operation or humanitarian assistance mission," said Melson. "It was an honor to participate in this exercise with Malaysia, and I am confident both countries learned a great deal from one another."

Members of the Makin Island and 11th MEU medical departments, along with embarked Fleet Surgical Team 5 personnel, provided medical facility tours and familiarization events aboard Makin Island. U.S. and Malaysian medical personnel also conducted a bilateral medical civil affairs project at a local clinic near Lahad Datu.

"Our ability to receive patients via air and surface, and provide life-saving surgical treatment here on board means we bring a critical capability to any area we operate within," said FST 5 Officer-in-Charge Capt. John Crabill. "The embarked team of medical professionals and Makin Island's full medical suite allowed U.S. and Malaysian forces to exchange best practices and lessons learned about at-sea medical operations, including casualty reception, combat trauma care, and operational stress."

Aboard Makin Island, the 11th MEU conducted operational planning evolutions with their counterparts of the 7th Battalion, Royal Malay Regiment. While training ashore, Marines and soldiers focused on jungle survival, non-lethal weapons, the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, helicopter loading and off-loading drills, landing zone security and control, and combat service support.

"Tiger Strike was an opportunity for U.S. Marines and Sailors to interact with soldiers from the Malaysian armed forces and share best training practices across a wide variety of military skills," said Col. Clay C. Tipton, commanding officer, 11th MEU. "These bilateral exercises allow our militaries to increase combat readiness and enhance coordination and communication between forces, which are important steps to maintaining regional security and stability."

The exercise included approximately 300 soldiers from the 7th Battalion, Royal Malay Regiment, and 300 U.S. Marines and Sailors from the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group and 11th MEU.

"This side-by-side training with our counterparts is invaluable," said Melson. "Relationships become stronger, and both sides gain skills and knowledge that enable coordinated and effective bilateral operations."

Makin Island, the flagship of the Makin Island ARG, is operating with the embarked 11th MEU in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

The MKI ARG/11th MEU provides senior U.S. military leadership and coalition partners with a flexible force which can rapidly respond to contingencies and crises within a region. With ships, aircraft, troops, and logistical equipment, the ARG/MEU is a self-contained and self-sustained task force capable of conducting everything from combat operations to providing humanitarian assistance.

The 7th Fleet area of operations includes more than 48 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean, running from the international dateline to the eastern coast of Africa, and from the Antarctic to the Kuril Islands, northeast of Japan.

While in 7th Fleet, the Makin Island ARG and 11th MEU will be assigned to Commander, Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet, the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force, headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa.