Military drills set amid talks on more US troops in PHBy Frances Mangosing
MANILA, Philippines – About 2,300 members of the Philippine and US military will hold joint military drills later this month amid talks of increased rotational presence of US forces here and continuing tensions between Manila and Beijing over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Part of the bilateral exercises include staff planning exercise to increase the capability to conduct bilateral maritime security and territorial defense operations, field training exercises and humanitarian and civic assistance projects.
The three-week joint exercises hosted by the Philippine Marine Corps will start September 18 in several Philippine military camps including the Naval Education and Training Command in San Antonio, Zambales; Crow Valley in Capas, Tarlac; Marine Base Gregorio Lim in Ternate, Cavite; Marine Barracks Rudiardo Brown in Metro Manila; and at the Basa Airbase and Clark Field in Pampanga.
The 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit and 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade from the United States Marine Corps will be paired with Philippine Navy, Air Force and Army units in the annual Amphibious Landing Exercises 2014 dubbed as Phiblex 2014.
“Phiblex 14 is designed to improve interoperability, increase readiness and enhance the ability to respond to natural disasters or other regional contingencies,” said First Lieutenant Vince Edward Salmingo, Public Affairs Officer of Phiblex 2014 in a statement.
At the same time, Phiblex will also enhance local infrastructure and quality of life and build upon vibrant professional and personal relationships between Philippine and US Marines, Salmingo said.
The staff planning exercise aims to increase the capability to conduct bilateral maritime security and territorial defense operations.
The field training exercises, meanwhile, will provide the Philippine and US troops an opportunity to maintain their unit skill sets while sharing best practices and enhancing an already high level of interoperability.
Additionally, Philippine and US forces will carry out a series of humanitarian and civic assistance projects that will include engineering civic action projects, to improve local infrastructure, and cooperative health engagements, to share medical best practices, promote civil military relations with the community while advancing humanitarian interests and meet the medical needs of Filipino citizens.
Humanitarian and civic assistance projects will be held in some villages in Legazpi City, Albay, Salmingo said.