Exercise between Philippines, US Marines starts
The bilateral exercise between United States and Philippine Marines dubbed as Kaagapay ng mga Mandirigma ng Dagat (KAMANDAG) started in Taguig City on Monday.
Maj. Gen Alvin Parreno, Philippine Marine Corps Commandant, said the exercise will focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) and counter terrorism.
“KAMANDAG is the first iteration for the bilateral exercise for this year. We are now more focused on humanitarian and civic assistance, and mission related exercises, but mostly on counter terrorism and other related subjects,” he said.
Although the exercise includes amphibious landing, Parreno said it is different from the Amphibious Landing Exercise (Phiblex) previously being done by Philippine and US Marines.
“This is more focused on humanitarian and civic assistance, that’s why we have these engineering projects in Casiguran and many other places and then, we are using some of the equipment we have, which is intended for humanitarian activities,” he said.
“The live fire exercise is on a minimum basis, because of the guidance from the higher headquarters. This is more on the humanitarian, and more on theoretical training, which is very important to the Philippine Marine Corps.,” he added.
Phiblex was among the annual exercises between US and Philippine forces scrapped because of an order by President Rodrigo Duterte last year to stop war games with the Americans.
Like KAMANDAG, Phiblex is conducted by US and Philippine Marines between September and October of every year.
In a press release, the US Embassy in Manila emphasized the importance of this exercise for both marine forces.
“KAMANDAG will increase overall US and Philippine readiness, improve bilateral responsiveness to crises in the region, and further reinforce our illustrious decades-long alliance,” it said.
“The goal of KAMANDAG is to increase counter terrorism capabilities through bilateral military exchanges between the AFP and US forces focused on enhancing counter terrorism capabilities, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities, and performing humanitarian and civic assistance projects,” it added. Robina Asido/DMS