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Marine Expeditionary Unit Embarks for the Philippines

U.S. Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionar...

U.S. Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit await land transportation in Guinsaugon, Philippines, February 21, 2006. U.S. Marines from 31st MEU are assisting in the humanitarian relief efforts following the February 17, 2006, landslide in the village of Guinsaugon on the island of Leyte. U.S. Navy photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WHITE BEACH NAVAL FACILITY, Okinawa, Nov. 17, 2013 – Approximately 900 Marines and sailors of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, part of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, aboard the USS Germantown and USS Ashland dock landing ships are heading for the Philippines to join U.S. and Philippine forces in support of ongoing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts as part of Operation Damayan, which means “lend a helping hand” in Filipino.

“Our condolences are with the people of the Philippines, who have
experienced incredible loss as a result this horrific disaster,” said
Marine Corps Col. John Merna, the 31st MEU’s commanding officer. “The
Marines and sailors of the 31st MEU, along with our counterparts of
Amphibious Squadron 11, have trained extensively for these types of
missions. By working with the (armed forces of the Philippines) during
recent exercises, we have built lasting relationships that will better
help us to ease the suffering of our Filipino friends.”

The 31st MEU recently completed a regularly scheduled patrol of the
Asia-Pacific region and was in the midst of unit turnover when the order
was received to support Operation Damayan.

Marines from the 3rd MEB, along with supplies and equipment, have
already been sent to the affected region with more expected to follow in
the coming days.

It has been reported that Typhoon Haiyan has impacted nearly 7
million Filipinos. The storm has destroyed 150,000 homes across the 41
provinces in the Philippines.

President Barack Obama pledged
U.S. support to the Philippines on Nov. 14. At that time, he noted, one
of the United States’ core principles “is when friends are in trouble,
America helps.”

While the scope of the disaster
is still being assessed, the duration and extent of the 31st MEU’s
operations will depend on requests from the government of the
Philippines and the priorities of the U.S. Agency for International
Development
.

“The Marine Corps as a whole,
and the 31st MEU in particular, has had a long-standing relationship
with the people of the Philippines,” Merna said. “It’s an important
mission anytime we do something like this, but when it’s a close friend
and ally, it makes it that much more serious for us and we’ll stay as
long as we’re asked to.”

In October 2012, the 31st MEU
trained in various locations in the Philippines with that country’s
military during Amphibious Landing Exercise 2012, a bilateral training
event designed to enhance interoperability and response during missions
such as this.

The 31st MEU and its partner,
the U.S. Navy’s Amphibious Squadron 2, have responded to four
humanitarian assistance disaster relief situations during the last five
years. The Marines and sailors have a robust air, ground, and maritime
transportation capability, as well as medical and dental health
services, distribution services, and engineering assets ready to provide
assistance.

The 31st MEU includes more than
2,200 Marines and sailors and is comprised of four elements: the Command
Element; Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines; Marine
Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265; and the Marines’ Combat Logistics
Battalion-31
.

The 31st MEU provides a
forward-deployed, flexible, sea-based force capable of conducting
amphibious operations, crisis response and limited contingency
operations in the Asia-Pacific region. The 31st MEU is the only
continually forward-deployed MEU and it remains the Marine Corps’
force-in-readiness in the Asia-Pacific.

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