News: The 31st MEU arrives for PHIBLEX 2012
Story by Lance Cpl. Codey Underwood
SUBIC BAY, Republic of the Philippines – More than 1,000 Marines and sailors of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit arrived aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) and USS Tortuga (LSD 42) to conduct the 29th iteration of the Amphibious Landing Exercise here, Oct. 6.
Throughout the Philippine Islands, the 31st MEU will be conducting bilateral exercises alongside their Philippine Marine counterparts to further improve the two forces' interoperability and maintain their long standing relationship.
“PHIBLEX provides an opportunity for the 31st MEU to conduct bilateral engagement with the armed forces of the Philippines,” said Lt. Col. Brian Hawkins, the 31st MEU operations officer and a native of Chandler, Ariz. “The most important thing about the exercise is training together. Working alongside these partners, our Marines learn about the capabilities and training methods of this nation’s military forces.”
The training to be conducted by the U.S. and Philippine forces include: medical and dental capability operations, community relations projects, live-fire training exercises, flight operations, parachute insertion training, artillery live-fire training, jungle warfare training, and amphibious raids.
The operations conducted during PHIBLEX help the new Marines and sailors to become more efficient by gaining the experience of completing their mission alongside an allied force.
“Being the new guy to my unit, this is my first deployment,” said Pfc. Gregg Schaefer, a landing support specialist with the 31st MEU and a native of St. Louis. “I enjoy getting out and working, doing my job, and seeing new places. I look forward to working with the Philippine Armed Forces.”
The Marines and sailors of the 31st MEU will be conducting training alongside the Philippine Armed Forces until the conclusion of the exercise Oct. 18. The scope of the exercise ensures the two forces are capable of integration through the full range of military operations.
“This is my third time in the Philippines and I am excited to work alongside the Philippine Armed Forces again for the next couple of weeks,” said Sgt. William Pi, a landing support specialist with the 31st MEU and a native of West Palm Beach, Fla.
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.