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Forward Deployed Sailors, Marines Begin PHIBLEX 06

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS051024-02
Release Date: 10/24/2005 11:53:00 AM

From Task Force 76 Public Affairs

ABOARD USS ESSEX (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines from the Forward Deployed Amphibious Ready Group and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived at Republic of the Philippines Oct. 22 to begin Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) 06.

The annual bilateral Republic of the Philippines and United States exercise is designed to improve interoperability, increase readiness and continue professional relationships between the United States and Philippine Armed Forces. The Forward Deployed Amphibious Ready Group last visited Republic of the Philippines in Fall 2003 during PHIBLEX 04.

Capt. Mark E. Donahue, commodore, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11, and Marine Col. Walter L. Miller, commander, 31st MEU, spoke with Sailors and Marines about the upcoming exercise with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Both leaders emphasized the Navy/Marine Corps team concept and also discussed how vital it was to maintain readiness capabilities with their Philippine counterparts.

“The Navy and the Marine Corps together make a dynamic team,” said Donahue. “This exercise will not only showcase the Blue-Green teamwork, but also maintains the readiness capabilities for both the Philippine and U.S. Armed Forces, and goes a long way in supporting the peace and stability of the Asian-Pacific region.”

Miller expressed similar sentiments.

“What you will be doing here is very important,” said Miller, addressing the Marines on USS Juneau’s (LPD 10) flight deck. “Many of your Marine brothers are in Iraq but your Philippine brothers need you here. This is an amazing opportunity for us to learn from them and for them to learn from us.”

Amphibious Squadron 11 and Forward Deployed Amphibious Ready Group with embarked Okinawa-based 31st MEU, are currently on their Fall deployment conducting bilateral exercises, Talon Vision and PHIBLEX 06, with the AFP.

The three-ship Amphibious Ready Group consists of USS Essex (LHD 2), Juneau and USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43). Approximately 5,000 U.S. and Philippine military personnel will participate in the exercises.

Sailors and Marines will also participate in community service projects at local elementary schools and Medical Civil Action Programs (MEDCAP) with the AFP during the exercise. The humanitarian effort is a joint effort between the Philippine and U.S. Armed Forces not only to train and work together, but also to benefit the local community.

“While training is our emphasis, we understand how important it is to give back to the communities here in the Philippines,” said Donahue.

While Talon Vision and PHIBLEX 06 emphasizes interoperability between U.S. and Philippine forces, it will also sustain a seamless cooperative partnership between the Navy and Marine Corps.

One of the main evolutions that the Navy/Marine Corps team will be conducting during the exercise will be ship-to-shore movment of troops and equipment, using a variety of helicopters and amphibious landing crafts. Marine aircraft participating in the exercises are from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 262 (Reinforced), the Air Combat Element (ACE) of the 31st MEU. The Marine aircraft include CH-46E Sea Knight, CH-53D Sea Stallion, AH-1W Cobra and UH-1N Huey helicopters and AV-8B Harrier II jump jets. Amphibious landing craft participating in the exercises are Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV), Utility Landing Craft (LCU), Air Cushion Landing Craft (LCAC) and Combat Rubber Raiding Craft (CRRC).

Essex, Juneau and Fort McHenry are based out of Sasebo, Japan, and part of the Navy’s only Forward Deployed Amphibious Ready Group.

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