Manila — Over 100 Filipino and US marines in assault amphibious vehicles steered a mock assault on imaginary adversaries in military drills Monday. The drills will be held off the west coast of the Philippines’ main island of Luzon, Lieutenant Rommel Rodriguez, spokesman for the Filipino side of the operations stated.
“All of our exercises will be conducted in our territorial waters. This has nothing to do with any dispute,” he said.
The USS John McCain, an American destroyer as well as the landing ship USS Ashland will join the Philippine navy vessels for the drills which will due from June 26 until July 1, Rodriguez added.
They will include search and rescue, boarding and salvage drills as well as gunnery exercises next Saturday and Sunday.
The amphibious tanks cruised from a US ship affixed a distance away, then rolled onto the beach of San Antonio, Zambales, northwest of the Philippine capital Manila, ejecting the Filipino and American sailors and marines armed with automatic rifles.
The drill is part of the annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training that the US conducts with its allies in Asia, including the Philippines, to discourse maritime security, build up partnerships and heighten interoperability.
Officials reported the trainings were not directed at China, which has been condemned for its increasingly self-assured behavior in disputed South China Sea territories.
The Philippines, the oldest of Washington’s five defense treaty allies in Asia, has turned to the US to modernize its ill-equipped military amid the increasingly tense territorial rifts with China.
“Whenever we do an exercise, we always train to improve our capabilities, it is not meant for whatever threat or situation that are current,” Philippine Navy Commodore Roland Joseph Mercado said.
Marine Maj. Damon Torres, commanding officer of the US landing force in the exercise, said the drills were a virtuous opportunity to manage and learn about each other’s capabilities.
JEANE MARIE M. FAMINOGAN
LNU, ABCOM INTERN