SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Sailors from Amphibious Squadron 11 here and Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit on Okinawa began an amphibious landing exercise in the Philippines last week.

The annual bilateral United States and Philippines exercise, PHIBLEX 2006, is staged to improve operations conducted together, increase readiness and continue professional relationships between the two nations’ armed forces, according to a Navy news report Monday.

About 4,500 Marines and sailors from the 31st MEU are with the Essex Amphibious Ready Group for the Talon Vision exercise, which ended Sunday, and PHIBLEX, which started Saturday and ends Tuesday.

The Amphibious Ready Group includes the USS Essex, USS Juneau and USS Fort McHenry. The Essex ARG and embarked Marines conducting the exercises are on their fall deployment.

Capt. Mark E. Donahue, Amphibious Squadron 11 commander, and Marine Col. Walter L. Miller, the 31st MEU commander, emphasized the Navy-Marine Corps team concept and readiness capabilities with their Philippines counterparts.

“The Navy and the Marine Corps together make a dynamic team,” Donahue stated in the report. “This exercise will not only showcase the Blue-Green teamwork, but also … goes a long way in supporting the peace and stability of the Asian-Pacific region.”

The major training element during PHIBLEX will be ship-to-shore movement of troops and equipment using helicopters and amphibious landing crafts.

Marine aircraft participating are from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262, the Aviation Combat Element of the 31st MEU.

Sailors and Marines are scheduled to conduct community service projects at local elementary schools and medical assistance programs with the Philippines armed forces during the exercise, the report added.

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