The Philippines and the United States begin today the annual, large-scale military exercises called “Amphibious Landing Exercise 2015 (PHIBLEX 15), which aims to bolster interoperability between the two nations’ troops and promote security cooperation in the region.
The opening ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. at the Naval Forces West (Navforwest) headquarters in Barangay San Miguel, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. PHIBLEX 15 will run until Oct. 10.
Approximately 3,500 U.S. Marines and sailors from 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (3rd MEB) and Commander, Task Force 76 have arrived in the country to participate in this year’s 31st iteration of PHIBLEX.
The U.S. troops, together with some 1,200 Philippine sailors and Marines, will work shoulder-to-shoulder conducting a command post exercise to practice communications throughout the battle space; field training exercises, which include small arms and artillery live-fire training; amphibious operations; ship-to-shore movement; and combined arms training; and humanitarian and civic assistance projects.
The focus of the command post exercise, a new training event for PHIBLEX 15, “will increase the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) capability to conduct planning and effective execution of bilateral maritime security and territorial defense operations.”
This, as the exercise comes at a time when the AFP is shifting focus from counter-insurgency operations to external threats.
AFP officials, however, emphasized that the exercise has nothing to do with China or the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.
In preparation for the conduct of the exercise, the U.S. Marines have set up communications equipment, including the very small aperture terminal-large (VSAT-Large) satellite dish at the Navforwest headquarters.
The VSAT-Large satellite dish, which intercepts and distributes communication signals, will ensure strong connections in the remote areas where parts of the exercise will take place. This will provide essential communications to commanders and staff which will allow fluid coordination of events throughout PHIBLEX.
In addition to the VSAT-Large satellite dish, the US troops brought more than six tons of equipment including walkie-talkies, computers and generators.
Two U.S. Navy ships, the USS Peleliu (LHA-5) and the USS Germantown (LSD-42), have also arrived in Subic Bay, Zambales Saturday to participate in PHIBLEX 15.
The AFP, on the other hand, is sending BRP Apolinario Mabini (PS-16), one of the three Jacinto-class patrol vessels in Philippine Navy (PN) service, for the exercise.