Armed Forces of the Philippines service members board a landing craft air cushion (LCAC) in Palawan, Philippines, during PHIBLEX. (u.S. Navy/MC2 Will Gaskill)

SOUTH CHINA SEA - The amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) wrapped up a series of strategic amphibious exercises with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Oct. 9 as part of Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX).

PHIBLEX is an annual, bilateral training exercise conducted by U.S. Navy and Marine forces with the AFP in order to strengthen the interoperability and working relationships across the range of military operations – from disaster relief to complex expeditionary operations.

“Our Navy-Marine Corps team is very well integrated at this point, having completed several exercises during this deployment,” said Maj. Ben Reid, Commander, Special Forces Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, embarked aboard Germantown during the ship’s fall patrol. “Unfortunately, this region suffers from natural disasters regularly. This exercise gave us and our Filipino partners the opportunity to prepare and train so we are all better prepared to assist in potential humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.”

The existing partnership between the U.S. and Philippine armed forces is strengthened by 31 previous PHIBLEX iterations.

“The important thing is supporting our allies and demonstrating our continued commitment to our Filipino partners,” said Reid.

USS Germantown’s maritime role in this exercise lasted one week. During this timeframe, AFP and U.S. Marines practiced combined amphibious exercises while based aboard Germantown. Ship-based amphibious assault vehicle launches to conduct beach assault exercises, and various shore-based military training evolutions were executed, including field training exercises and humanitarian/civic assistance operations.

“I am very impressed with the professionalism and expertise of the AFP Marines. These exercises gave us the opportunity to continue building our partnership and increase our interoperability for responding to humanitarian and disaster relief efforts in the region,” said Cmdr. Gary Harrington, commanding officer of Germantown. “This is my third year participating in this exercise and the blue-green team once again excelled, galvanizing our partnership with the AFP.”