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US, Filipino marines take part in military exercises in Camp Abubakar

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Maguindanao—More than 400 US and Filipino marines are taking part in the Marine Exercise (MAREX) 2024 from April 8 until April 19 where participants will conduct drills to enhance mutual defense capabilities and respond to natural disasters at Camp Abubakar.

Camp Abubakar was the former lair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that was captured by government forces during an all-out war declared by then President Joseph Estrada in 2000.

Brigadier General Eric A. Macaambac PN(M), commander of the 1st Marine Brigade, said the exercises aimed to strengthen the relationship and develop interoperability between Filipino and American Marines.

“The Philippines and US forces will conduct capabilities development training that enhances our forces tactics, techniques, and procedures across a wide range of military operations,” Macaambac said. “It will advance military modernization and capability development by working together and conducting subject matter expert exchanges,” he added.

During this year’s MAREX Philippines, approximately 49 U.S. Marines and 350 Filipino Marines, the Philippine National Police, Army elite unit, and Navy reservist will train together to enhance coastal defense, combined fires, amphibious assault operations, and small unmanned aerial system capabilities. Participants will also conduct cultural exchanges and community relations days including a visit to Datu Mohammad A. Sinsuat Sr. Integrated School covered court barangay Pura, Datu Blah Sinsuat Maguindanao del Norte in Mindanao, and subject matter expert exchanges to further our combined commitment to global security and regional cooperation.

“We must continue to conduct relevant training that will improve our individual and collective capabilities. MAREX is joined by our foreign counterpart and our major ally, the United States Marine Corps, which has long been training with us and sharing with us the duty to preserve regional peace and security,” said Under Secretary Ariel Caculitan, former 33rd Commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps.

On April 9, the U.S. Marine Corps from the First Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) conducted training on Tactical combat casualty care with Filipino Marines.

Macaambac said on the day of Eid al-Fitr participating troops have joined together for a boodle fight as the country joins the rest of the World in marking the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Later this month, the US and the Philippines will conduct their annual Balikatan joint military exercises involving some 11,000 American troops and 5,000 Filipino soldiers in the South China Sea.

The 39th edition of the annual exercise carried out under the two countries’ 1951 Mutual Defence Treaty (MDT), aims to enhance force capability and strengthen cooperation in maritime security, amphibious operations, live-fire training, urban and aviation operations, counterterrorism, humanitarian help, and disaster relief.

The Pentagon previously said it was prepared to assist Manila if it invoked the treaty amid threats from other nations.


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