BASA AIRBASE, Republic of the Philippines --
Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265 (Rein), the Air Combat Element of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, arrived in the Republic of the Philippines to participate in the annual Amphibious Landing Exercise, Oct. 20.
“The main body landed yesterday and is going to be here at least a week to participate in the exercise,” said Maj. Robert Davis, the executive officer of HMM 265 (Rein), 31st MEU. “Our main mission is to provide casualty evacuation if needed, and to conduct our unit level training during the exercise.”
According to Davis, the squadron also plans to conduct weapons training with the AH-1 Cobra helicopters and UH-1 Huey helicopters, and training flights with medium and heavy lift helicopters, all in addition to supporting the Battalion Landing Team and 31st MEU in any way they can.
For many of the Marines with the squadron, this is the first time they have set foot in a foreign country.
“This country is completely different from Cherry Point,” said Cpl. George Byran, an avionics technician with HMM 265 (Rein), 31st MEU. “Everything from the climate to the culture is different, but it’s a good experience to be able to come over here and train like this.”
Byran went on to say this was the only time he would have the chance to see the Philippines because he is due to end his active duty service soon.
The Marines will also be able to conduct training in a way that is different than in Okinawa.
“The Marines definitely have an expeditionary mindset,” said Davis. “We are coming out here and getting out of our element, getting into a place that we’re not familiar with, and we gain a lot of pilot proficiency.”
He went on to say that deploying to the Philippines in support of the 31st MEU is a good opportunity for the Marines to be exposed to foreign places.
During the time spent supporting the MEU, the Marines will also have the opportunity to interact and train with the Philippine service members.
“I have talked to a few members of the Philippine Air Force,” said Byran. “They seem like nice people, and I hope to work with them more before I leave here.”
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.