PH, US troops kick off busy month with Balance Piston 2022
The military is participating in at least two exercises with allies this month, the regular Balance Piston bilateral exercise with the United States in Palawan and the 21-nation Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (Seacat).
The monthlong Balance Piston 22-3 was launched on Monday and will involve about a hundred commandos from the Army’s Special Forces Regiment (Airborne) and the US Army’s Special Operations Command Pacific.
Army spokesperson Col. Xerxes Trinidad said in a statement that the drills will last until September and will be held at the Joint Maritime Law Enforcement Training Center in Puerto Princesa City.
The Filipino and American commandos will also have activities at the headquarters of the 18th Special Forces ‘Riverine’ Company in Punta Baja in Rizal town, also in Palawan.
The bilateral exercise will focus on long-range marksmanship, combat marksmanship, close-quarter combat, small unit tactics, unconventional warfare, maritime operations, and a full mission profile or culmination exercise.
After this year’s Balance Piston was launched on Monday, the US-led Seacat was also launched in Singapore on Tuesday.
The Seacat will also have activities in the Sulu Sea among participants from 21 nations, including six member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
Aside from the Philippines, other Asean member nations joining the exercise are Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
The 14 other participating countries are Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, France, Germany, India, Japan, Maldives, New Zealand, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“This multilateral exercise will enhance the cooperation among the Philippines, Southeast Asian and European countries to address crises, contingencies, and illegal activities in the maritime domain using standard tactics, techniques and procedures,” said Rear Adm. Toribio Adaci, commander of Naval Forces in Western Mindanao.
The Navy will deploy the BRP Andres Bonifacio and an AW109 helicopter.
The sea phase will include boarding operations by multiple nations designed to provide training in real-world at-sea environments, the US Navy said.
The exercise also included a maritime domain awareness (MDA) seminar that was held from Aug. 16 to Aug. 18.
The shore training will feature an unmanned aerial systems (UAS) workshop that will cover a broad range of UAS and the tactics, procedures to develop maritime domain awareness, the US Navy said.
“This iteration of Seacat is designed … to use all MDA assets available to conduct multilateral intercepts using standard procedures,” said Capt. Tom Ogden, commander of US Destroyer Squadron 7.
“Training together develops capability and trust among participating countries to cooperate and provide mutual support in response to a crisis or illegal activity in the maritime domain,” he said.
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