WESCOM joint task forces, PNP, and provincial government officials aboard the USS Essex on January 28, 2022. (Photo from 3MBde)

Western Command (WESCOM) joint task forces, provincial police, and Palawan provincial government officials paid a visit to the USS Essex, the US Navy’s (USN) landing helicopter dock, on Friday as part of the Marine Exercise (MAREX) 2022.

MAREX aims to improve mutual defense capabilities and natural disaster response between the Philippines and the United States.

In a press statement released Saturday by the 3rd Marine Brigade (3MBde), it said the delegation was picked up on January 28 by the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) MV-22 (Osprey) aircraft from Antonio Bautista Air Base in the city and transported to the USS Essex in southern Palawan.

An image of the USS Essex (LHD 2) taken in September 2021 as it transits the Arabian Sea. (File photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brett McMinoway)

The 3MBde said the ship visit was part of the interoperability exercise events of MAREX, which also include combined amphibious operations planning and amphibious landings at designated training areas utilizing boats and aircraft.

The annual MAREX kicked off on January 27 in WESCOM’s Joint Area of Operations (JAO) between troops of the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) stationed in Palawan under Brig. Gen. Jimmy Larida, commander of the 3MBde, and the USMC’s 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) under Col. James Lively.

One rifle company from the 3MBde and two rifle companies from the USMC are participating in the amphibious landing exercise.

It is an interoperability training that will improve the amphibious operations capability in support of counter-terrorism, internal security operations, and humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) of both forces in close partnership with the local government units (LGUs) in Palawan.

“The conduct of MAREX22 in Palawan that focuses on amphibious operations in support of humanitarian assistance and disaster response is very timely, especially since the province was recently hit badly by super typhoon Odette,” Larida said.

“The exchange of knowledge and skills will enhance the capability and smooth cooperation between the two Marine Corps forces in responding to natural disasters,” he added.

He also lauded the provincial government of Palawan and the LGUs in Southern Palawan for their strong support to MAREX.