CROW VALLEY, Republic of the Philippines --
It was the knowledge of logistics that made the amphibious landings at Incheon, North Korea, so successful for the Marine Corps, because it effectively cut North Korean supply lines which ultimately crippled their army.
Today, it is the roughly 130 Marines of Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit that apply their logistic knowledge to keep Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 31st MEU operating in the field.
The 31st MEU is currently participating in the annual, bilateral Amphibious Landing Exercise in the Republic of the Philippines.
Although this is an exercise, the work of the Marines of CLB 31 is still vital. They ensure Marines of the BLT are properly supplied by providing them with equipment and logistic support, allowing them to remain effective.
“Our main mission is to support the BLT,” said 2nd Lt. Elizabeth Harrington, the S-4 assistant officer in charge and maintenance management officer. “Our main focus is to provide food, water fuel and ammunition, but we also get to coordinate with the Philippine Marines to do some bilateral support training.”
It was the Marines of CLB 31 that set up the entire camp in Crow Valley. Normally, the job is routine, because setting up a camp is one of the CLB’s main missions, but this time was different.
“When we got out here, the whole area was flooded,” said Harrington. “There was water flowing through the middle of the camp, so we had the engineers build a berm to redirect the water to go around the camp so we could move the supplies and equipment in.”
After establishing the camp, CLB Marines had the chance to interact with Philippine service members.
“They are all really good people,” said Cpl. Joseph D. Behler, an embark chief with CLB 31, 31st MEU. “There is a lot we have that we can teach them, and they have a lot that they can teach us.”
CLB also conducted training sessions with the Philippine Marines. They taught a bilateral Marine Corps Martial Arts Program class and trained on the capabilities of CLB 31’s Humvees. The bulk fuel specialists of CLB also plan to instruct the combined service members how to receive fuel from a CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopter.
The Marines are not just interacting with the Philippine military; they also will have the chance to interact with local civilians during a community relations event at nearby schools. During the events, Marines will intermingle with the children and help with sports activities.
Harrington said it gives the Marines a greater appreciation of the American lifestyle by seeing the conditions many Philippine citizens live in, which is a unique experience.
As the exercise continues, so does the efforts of the Marines of CLB 31 to ensure the BLT has the supplies and equipment needed, and the local community benefits from the Marine’s presence.
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.