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31st MEU assaults air field, kicks off Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise

Oct. 24, 2005; Submitted on: 10/24/2005 02:24:17 AM ; Story ID#: 2005102422418

By Sgt. Mike Camacho 31st MEU

Fort Magsaysay, Republic of the Philippines, 24 October 2005 — Marines and sailors with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and the Forward-deployed Amphibious Ready Group simulated an airfield seizure marking the start of the Amphibious Landing Exercise 2006 here October 21.

The Okinawa and Sasebo, Japan-forward-deployed American forces’ participation in the bilateral exercise holds a dual-fold purpose. In one aspect, the MEU receives evaluations for its special operations capable requirements while enhancing the interoperability between U.S. and Philippine forces.

“Both our forces have numerous training objectives to accomplish and we’ll accomplish them together,” said Col. Walter L. Miller, Jr., the MEU’s commander. “Not only are we conducting events such as live fire training and amphibious landings, we will also conduct medical and engineering civic action projects near our training areas.”

About 4,500 U.S. Marines and sailors will participate in the exercise making it the largest U.S.-Philippine military training exercise this year.

“Operating with the U.S. forces allows us to exchange and enhance each other’s techniques, tactics and procedures,” said Philippine Marine Lt. Col. Benjamin B. Asiddao, assistant superintendent of the Philippine Marine Corps Training Center.

Each service has much to offer the other, said Staff Sgt. Brian K. Withrow, 2nd platoon sergeant, E Company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment.

“Our Marines are able to attend some really great schools and experience very sophisticated training, which we want to share with our Philippine counterparts,” said Withrow, a Susanville, California native. “But it’s a mutual exchange because some of my Marines haven’t experienced combat, while many of the Phil-Marines have extensive experience.”

The U.S. Marines simulated an assault on an airfield here, and the Philippine Marines played the role of a defending force during the simulated firefight.

“The U.S. Marines reacted like robots,” said Philippine Marine Staff Sgt. Roy T. Borgarra, sniper instructor, Philippine Marine Corps Sniper School. “They are very disciplined and have no fear of the enemy.”

Both forces’ performances were commendable, and proved the fundamental elements in a Marine Corps are the same, said the 27-year-old Withrow.

“What I think we, U.S. Marines, do very well is decentralize command down to the lowest possible leader,” said Withrow. “We have four-man teams where the lance corporal is the one who makes important and competent decisions.”

The exercise, which is designed to improve interoperability, enhance readiness and build professional relationships between U.S. and Philippine Armed Forces, will end November 1.

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