Filipino soldiers awed by US advanced weaponry showcased in Balikatan

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FORT MAGSAYSAY, Philippines—It was the first time in his six years of  service that Private First Class Ronnel Gragasin joined the Balikatan, an  annual training and war games that bring Filipino and American soldiers  together.

Emerging from the live firing exercise at the Special Forces’ Fernandez  Hill in this military fort in Palayan City last week, Gragasin, a member of a platoon from the  Army’s 50th Infantry Battalion, was amazed by the new gadgets  and weapons used by their American counterparts.

For one, the Americans’ M249 rifle has an approximate range of 750 meters, far better than the 360-meter range of the Filipino soldiers’ M-16 rifle, according to Fernandez.

Colonel Jack Pritchard, leader of over 600 American soldiers and co-commander of the combined armed forces, said this year’s Balikatan has been featuring a unique GPS [global positioning system]-aided gadget that would enable commanders to monitor every movement of their men on the ground.

Pritchard said through the gadget, called the Instrumentation Training System Units (IHits), commanders monitor detailed actions, including troop positioning and fire angling.

This way, he said, the soldiers can be briefed on errors as well as their best moves while in combat.

It was the first time such an equipment was brought out of US territory, Balikatan officials said.

Col. George Avila, co-commander of the exercises, said the training had no preset scenario.

“All that Balikatan aims is interoperability,” Avila said, referring to the preparedness of American and Filipino soldiers to work together and respond to any emergency, including natural disasters.

Pritchard and Avila said soldiers training in this military reservation have been focusing on the exercises despite protests from political activists against the conduct of Balikatan.

Among the exercises being undertaken here are casualty evacuation drills and community relations activities.

Earlier, US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas Jr. said that besides 2,300 Philippine troops and 4,500 American soldiers, some participants from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and other countries have also been taking part in the exercises.

The Balikatan started in various locations in the country on April 16 and will end on April 27.

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  • JK1000

    PNP should issue submachine gun to their people instead of long arm M-16 riffles. HK MP 5 is well suited for Police units. and  the AFP should issue the newest and modern assault riffles Heckler & Koch HK 416 made by German and the U.S.

  • tinots

    Psssst! FACTS: pag pabor sa US ang mga balita. ang mga underground red barberos ay magsisigaw ng “propaganda”! pag may balitang di magandang pangyayari sa alyansang america at pinas, tsaka lang sila magsasabing “fair at unbiased” ang mga nagbabalita! sabay sulat ng kudos……hahahhahahahhhahahhahahah

  • neverwint3r

    it’s time to stop being awed, modernize the armed forces, san na ba napupunta yung perang intended dito? pork barrel? or corruption?

    being in the frontline defending the country and fighting communists and the milf/abu sayyaf, why can’t we equip our ground troops and soldiers with these modern arms  and equiptment and can protect save their life?

  • AFPako

    US military gets an annual budget of $ 600 -700 B  . They have to streamline lately to cope with budgetary cuts. If they can give us some of their equipment we can do so with open arms.

  • Fz20

    natatakot ang mga col/heneral na i-benta ng mga tauhan nila ang mga modernong armas, maraming buyers esp private armies, maunahan pa sila… alam nila gawain nila yan,eh, kaya they cant trust their own…ika nga, ang magnanakaw galit sa kapwa magnanakaw…sob fkg traitors.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/William-Burnham/1545220113 William Burnham

    Seriously? They’ve never seen a Light-Medium Machine-gun over there? 249s are a dime a dozen, I thought everyone had them, or at least something comparable.

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