BASA AIRBASE, Republic of the Philippines — Marines with Force Reconnaissance Platoon, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, built trust between themselves and their Philippine Marine counterparts during the Amphibious Landing Exercise, Oct. 25.
The Marines of both nations participated in a bilateral parachute exercises, consisting of low level static line operations as well as free-fall operations.
“It was outstanding,” said Gunnery Sgt. Tammy Belleville, the parachute loft chief for Combat Logistics Battalion 37, who supported the MEU’s parachute jump. “It was excellent training between the Philippine Marines and ours, and there was a lot of camaraderie gained from everybody working together.”
The jumps allowed the Marines of both nations to gain confidence and become more proficient with their gear and procedures of parachute operations.
“It helps improve unit effectiveness and builds onto the trust and confidence of the Marines, as well as build onto their overall moral,” said Belleville.
Conducting this type of training requires the Marines to literally trust each other with their lives for many reasons. The first reason is that the Marines have to trust that their fellow Marines know how to properly and safely complete the jump, because one mistake in the air could cost lives.
The second reason is that both Philippine and US Marines do not pack their own parachutes, so they must trust that their brothers-in-arms did it right so it will deploy properly during the jump.
“It takes a lot of trust to use that equipment because if there is not trust it can break down everything,” said Belleville. “If there is not trust in the person that is putting the chute on your back then you would be apprehensive in doing your job, and maybe that one second of apprehensiveness could cause someone to be injured. So trust is everything.”
Overall the exercise went well and the Marines left with a very high opinion of their new friends within the Philippine Marine Corps.
“They are great guys,” said Staff Sgt. Chris Baumgartner, the platoon sergeant of FRP platoon, 31st MEU. “They were all very technically and tactically proficient and I hope I get to come back and do this exercise with them again.”
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.