Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chelsea Mandello, Amphibious Squadron 11 Public Affairs
SUBIC BAY, Philippines – Amphibious dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46), part of the forward-deployed Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), arrived in Subic Bay, Philippines Oct. 5 to transport the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit for the Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX).
PHIBLEX is an annual bilateral exercise held in conjunction with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and is designed to improve interoperability, increase readiness and develop professional and personal relationship between U.S. and Philippine forces.
“PHIBLEX is a great training opportunity to partner with the Filipino marines,” said Lt. Col. O. J. Randall, commander of Combat Logistics Battalion 31 with the 31st MEU.
Tortuga offloaded Marines of the 31st MEU along with vehicles and equipment for the exercise shortly after pulling into Subic Bay.
“This exercise prepares the 31st MEU for any event that might happen outside of a training environment,” said Lance Cpl. Kyle Haupt, from the Marine supply department. “We are going to be offloading all of our equipment then we will spend several days in the Philippines working with the local military.”
During PHIBLEX, Marines from the 31st MEU and marines from the AFP will conduct bilateral amphibious unit training, small boat training, as well as community relations, engineering and medical and dental civil action programs at various locations while the ARG provides sea support.
“We’re looking forward to training the Marines and conducting a bilateral exercise,” said 2nd Lt. Wesley Jackson. “This will be a good exercise for the Marines to see how planning and teamwork can come together effectively and efficiently.”
The exercise gives the 31st MEU the opportunity to combine all of its elemental units which include an air combat element, combat logistics team, battalion landing team and the MEU’s headquarters.
Tortuga, part of the only forward-deployed ARG, is currently operating in the 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility.
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