SUBIC BAY, Philippines (Oct. 22, 2011) – The forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) arrived in Subic Bay, Philippines Oct. 22 to offload elements of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) for participation in Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX).
PHIBLEX is a bilateral training exercise between U.S. Sailors and Marines and the Armed Forces of the Philippines designed to improve interoperability, increase readiness and build upon professional and personal relationships between the two nations.
“We are excited to participate in this year’s PHIBLEX,” said Capt. David Fluker, Essex commanding officer. “This exercise gives us the opportunity to demonstrate a range of amphibious capabilities with the 31st MEU alongside our Filipino allies.”
During the exercise, U.S. and Philippine forces will conduct air-ground and amphibious training. Exercises such as PHIBLEX allow the two nations to practice integrated operations through the full range of military operations, including peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance missions.
“The importance of PHIBLEX is to train with our Philippine military counterparts and learn as much as we can from each other,” said Col. Andrew MacMannis, commanding officer of the 31st MEU. “I hope that we get to know each other better and have a better appreciation and understanding of each other's capabilities.”
For many of the Marines and Sailors attached to Essex and the MEU, this will be their first opportunity to work with Philippine forces.
“This is my first time participating in PHIBLEX, and I’m glad to be a part of something that will contribute not only in a military aspect, but also help with the intercultural relations between Americans and the Filipinos,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Gavelez, an avionics technician with the MEU.
The exercise is scheduled to run until Oct. 28. This year marks the 28th iteration of PHIBLEX and the 60th year of the Philippine-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty. U.S. and Philippine forces regularly work together in bilateral exercises such as PHIBLEX to help make the Pacific region more secure and prosperous.