Sunday, August 27, 2006

US Military Exercises in the Philippines

RP, US Marines to hold joint exercises

By Joel Guinto

Last updated 06:53pm (Mla time)


SOME 3,000 Filipino and American Marine troops will hold amphibious exercises in various points in the northern Philippines in October, a Philippine military spokesman said Tuesday.

The training, dubbed Philippine Bilateral Exercises (Phiblex), is aimed at "enhancing interoperability" between the two military forces, said Lieutenant Colonel Ariel Caculitan of the Philippine Marine Corps.

Some 800 Philippine Marines and 200 others from the Navy and the Air Force will train with some 2,000 US counterparts at Fort Magsaysay in Laur town, Nueva Ecija province, Crow Valley in Capas town, Tarlac province, and the Marine Base in Ternate town, Cavite province, Caculitan said.

"It [Phiblex] aims to enhance interoperability of the Army, Navy, and Marines with an allied country," Caculitan told reporters at the Camp Aguinaldo general headquarters in Quezon City."

But it's more of a Marine heavy exercise, amphibious exercise," Caculitan added.

When asked if the training would focus on counter-terrorism, like past exercises between the US and the Philippines, Caculitan said: "Not really directed at [terrorism]… This one is basically improving interoperability."

He said the joint training would run for "more or less two weeks.""We are still coming up with a final planning conference. Everything depends on the planning process," he added.

Next week, Filipino and American naval forces will kick-start a week-long joint training against terrorism and transnational crimes dubbed Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2006 in the northern provinces of Zambales and La Union.

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