US, PH to hold naval exercises near disputed seas

safe_imageMANILA – United States and Filipino soldiers will conduct later this month until early October naval exercises in Palawan and Zambales, both fronting the disputed West Philippine Sea.

Lt. Cmdr. Marineth Domingo, public affairs officer of the Philippine Navy, said the Philippine Bilateral Exercise (Phiblex) will commence on September 29 and end on October 10.

She said Phiblex is meant to improve the interoperability and combat readiness, enhance the security cooperation in the region, and improve the camaraderie between the two militaries.

She clarified this has nothing to do with China. “This is for training purposes only. This is meant to capacitate our (forces) based on the Defense Planning Guidance.”

At least 2,000 soldiers from the US and 700 from the Philippine Navy will be joining. A number from the Philippine Army and Air Forces will also take part.

Domingo said the exercises will be conducted in various areas in Luzon, including the area of operation of the Naval Forces West in Palawan and at the headquarters of the Naval Education and Training Command (NETC) in San Antonio, Zambales.

In Palawan, Domingo said the soldiers will be holding amphibious training operations, military exchanges on tactical warfare simulation, maritime security planning, and command post exercises.

At the NETC, they will be training on mechanized assault operation.

Training activities will also be held in Subic Bay in Zambales, Clark Air Base in Pampanga, Marine Base Ternate in Cavite, and Crow Valley – a bombing and gunnery range in Tarlac.

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