Aussie military teams to arrive in PH to train local troops
CLARK FREEPORT—The Australian military will soon start training its counterparts in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) regarding urban warfare and counterterrorism in order to further advance the skills of Filipino troops in combating extremist problems.
“The Australian Defense Force (ADF) will provide mobile training teams that begin providing urban warfare counter-terrorism training in the Philippines in the coming days,” Australian defense minister Marise Payne said in a press briefing on Tuesday.
The announcement was made as Payne visits the Philippines for a regional security forum with the allied countries.
About 80 Australian mobile teams will train members of the Philippine Army and Marines in various military bases in the country.
“The practical training the ADF will provide will ensure the Philippines defense force is better able to counter the brutal tactics being employed by terrorists,” Payne said.
The exercises will also involve “a long range of skills related to combat in urban environments.”
On Monday, the end of the five-month long siege in Marawi was officially terminated. The fighting between government troops and ISIS-inspired terrorists was the bloodiest and longest urban war in Philippine history.
Australia assisted the Philippines in the Marawi crisis by sending its surveillance planes for intelligence gathering.
“Now that the Secretary of National Defense Lorenzana has declared the end of combat operations in Marawi, we will continue to consult closely with the Philippines on the future need for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support,” Payne said.
They will also increase their intelligence monitoring on countering terrorists or the ISIS propaganda in social media.
Australia said the trainings of Philippine troops were aimed to strengthen the capabilities of the Philippines to combat terrorist threat over a long term.
Military leaders and strategists have expressed alarm that Asia could be the next ISIS stronghold, as fighters from Syria and Iraq seek new territories.
Lorenzana, meanwhile, thanked Payne for the contribution of Australia during the recently concluded military operations.
“From the start, Australia has been providing invaluable support to the AFP’s operations against the Maute Group, particularly on increasing operational and situational awareness in the conflict area, like providing us surveillance planes to help our troops on the ground,” he said.
“The fight against global terror cannot be addressed by one country alone, and we are very much appreciative of Australia’s support for our counterterrorism program,” the defense chief said. /jpv
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