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Marines storm beach with Philippine counterparts

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The white water breaking against the front of the amphibious assault vehicles was the only visible clue they were approaching.

As they neared the shore, the AAV’s spewed clouds of smoke to cover their final approach. Once they hit the beach, both U.S. and Philippine Marines poured out the back to establish a beachhead.

The Marines and Sailors with Company G, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted a bilateral mock mechanized amphibious assault with their Philippine counterparts, Oct. 23.

“Our objectives were to secure a beachhead and push inland utilizing support by fire positions, assault the enemy and secure the area,” said 1st Lt. Garret Shaw, 3rd platoon commander with Company G, BLT 2/7, 31st MEU.

After establishing a beachhead the Marines of both nations boarded their AAV’s and broke into three elements.

The first element set up blocking positions, providing security along the flanks of the beachhead. The second moved into position to provide support by fire as the third element pushed forward towards the final objective.

All three elements consisted of fully integrated squads of Philippine and U.S. Marines. The combined nation’s service members overcame the language barrier quickly in order to accomplish the mission.

As they moved forward and reacted to enemy fire, they communicated effectively through the use of hand signals.

“They were very professional,” said Lance Cpl. Kyle L. Thompson, a radio operator with Company G, BLT 2/7, 31st MEU. “We listened well to each other, and learned from each other.”

Working together in integrated squads to accomplish the mission together was beneficial to both sides in many ways.

“One of the advantages we have when we come here is we get with the other services and other country’s militaries and get the experience of learning what they know, as well as our partners learning what we know,” said Col. Andrew MacMannis, the commanding officer of the 31st MEU. “The truth is they have as much to teach us as we have to teach them.”

With the objective and the mission complete, the Marines of the 31st MEU were able to talk with the Philippine Marines about how they did.

“This training was good to refresh our Marine’s skills with our U.S. counterparts,” said Philippine Maj. Nilo Japzon, a Public Affairs Officer. “This was a good experience for both sides and I’m looking forward to training with the U.S. Marines again.”

As the Marines trained together they greatly improved their interoperability between U.S. and Philippine forces.

“Anytime you get together for training it helps improve relations,” said MacMannis. “The biggest part of these exercises is just getting with your counterparts and getting to know them and seeing what you can learn from them, and what you can teach each other.”

PHIBLEX is an opportunity to conduct training which is vital to maintaining the readiness and interoperability of the U.S. and the Republic of the Philippines military forces.

The 31st MEU is operating in support of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade for the exercise, is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and remains the United States’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.

Article by Cpl. Garry J. Welch, 31st MEU