Photo Information

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Justin Sabey, a rifleman with Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, fires his M32 grenade launcher during live-fire training with Philippine Marines at Crow Valley, Philippines, Oct. 6, 2015. Philippine Marines with 31st Marine Company, Marine Battalion Landing Team 1, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the U.S. Marines with BLT 2/5, 31st MEU, are training side by side as part of Amphibious Landing Exercise 2015, an annual bilateral training exercise conducted by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines alongside U.S. Marine and Navy Forces.

Photo by Cpl. Ryan Mains

Echo in the Valley: Philippine, U.S. Marines complete PHIBLEX in Crow Valley

22 Oct 2015 | Cpl. Ryan Mains 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit

The gray, muddy flats of Crow Valley look like a photo of the moon was transposed over the jungle terrain of the Philippines. When rain isn’t turning the valley into a near impassable river, the jungle heat is turning it into a sweltering oven. For U.S. Marines and Philippine Marines, the unforgiving terrain of Crow Valley is a perfect training environment for Amphibious Landing Exercise 2015. 

U.S. Marines with Company E, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, and Philippine Marines from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, trained together during PHIBLEX 2015 in Crow Valley, Philippines, from Oct. 2-8. 

The alliance between the Philippines and the U.S. has contributed to peace, stability and prosperity in the region for more than 60 years. Efforts to strengthen this partnership are demonstrated in exercises like PHIBLEX every year.

“The purpose of the PHIBLEX is to strengthen our interoperability and our working relationship across military operations from disaster relief to complex joint operations,” said Philippine Marine 1st Lt. Ronald Gonzales, the company commander for 31st Marine Company, Marine Battalion Landing Team 1, AFP. “We are confident that we can work with our U.S. Marine counterparts effectively, and it feels great having the U.S. supporting our country.”

PHIBLEX started with the U.S. Marines and their Philippine counterparts in Crow Valley meeting and learning about each other, as well as opportunities for trading and teaching each other about the different weapon systems. 

“It’s not every day that we get to work with another country’s military, especially another Marine Corps,” said Sgt. David Jarvis, a squad leader with Co. E, BLT 2/5, 31st MEU. “We got out there and worked with them hand in hand and everything we did out there was a great success.”

Over a week-long period, the U.S. and Philippine Marines executed several live-fire ranges, working their way up from fire teams to squad and platoon sized elements. 

“PHIBLEX gives us a chance to prove that we can effectively integrate with an allied nation, put them into supporting arms positions, put them into integrated fire teams, move them into our squads and have them execute an attack just like we would as if it was one single Marine Corps unit,” said 1st Lt. Kyle King, a platoon commander the company. “This also gives the Marines an appreciation for our allies just in case we do need to come together to push back a foe from another nation, and we would know that we would support them and that they would support us.”

With PHIBLEX at an end the two forces were able to successfully work together, utilizing multiple different tactics and weapon systems. 

“Both the Philippine Marines and the U.S. Marines have a lot of pride in what they do and bringing two forces together with so much pride allowed us to really bond and operate together,” said King, a native of Lakewood, California. “I loved seeing the U.S. Marines having a good time with the Philippine Marines, and seeing them act as one unit coming together rather than two separate entities.”