The country renounces war as an instrument of national policy, but if it is facing external threat, the alliance of Armed Forces of the Philippines, United States and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force are well-prepared to repel such warfighting scenario, a major milestone they achieved during the nine-day bilateral military exercise held in Manila.
These warfighting capabilities have been achieved by the AFP after it successfully launched its assault amphibious vehicles (AAVs) for the first time alongside US and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force AAVs to conduct a multilateral amphibious landing and attained significant advancements during bilateral air defense and threat reaction drills between American and Filipino forces, which support territorial defense training.
This came after the Philippines, the US and Japan forces concluded its joint military exercise dubbed as “KAMANDAG 3” during the closing ceremony held at Marine Barracks Rudiardo Brown, in Taguig City last Oct. 18, 2019.
KAMANDAG, which ran from Oct. 9 to 18, is an acronym for the Filipino phrase “Kaagapay Ng Mga Mandirigma Ng Dagat,” which translates to “Cooperation of Warriors of the Sea,” highlighting the strong friendship, partnership, and alliance between the Philippine and US militaries and peoples.
In a statement, the US Embassy in Manila said the ceremony marked the end of the Philippine-led, bilateral military exercise, which was designed to increase readiness, improve joint responsiveness, and enhance partnership and interoperability between Filipino, Japanese, and American forces.
“Our forces have enhanced capabilities, interoperability, and readiness through teamwork fostered by a true dedication to the attainment of excellence,” said Maj. Gen. Paul J. Rock Jr., 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade commanding general.
“Seeing the output of their hard work and expertise, I have the utmost confidence that our forces stand prepared in their mission to uphold peace and security throughout the Indo-Pacific region,” the US officer added.
“This year’s KAMANDAG marked two major exercise milestones: the Philippine Marine Corps successfully launched its assault amphibious vehicles (AAVs) for the first time alongside US and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force AAVs to conduct a multilateral amphibious landing; additionally, significant advancements were made during bilateral air defense and threat reaction drills between Philippine and US forces, which support territorial defense training,” the embassy statement said.
Brig. Gen. Ariel R. Caculitan, deputy commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps, declared that the Filipino soldiers’ warfighting capabilities have been enhanced, including in the area of disaster relief operation.
“For the past nine days, we saw action, not on the battle field, but on the training grounds, and we sweat and did our best to enhance our Soldiers’ and Marines’ capabilities in warfighting and also humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” Philippine Marine Corps official said.
“The point is we must all be prepared whenever we need these capabilities, either warfighting or humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and I think this whole exercise we have met the goals and objectives,” he added.
Throughout the exercise, Philippine and US service members conducted training in amphibious operations, live fire drills, military operations in urban terrain, reconnaissance, low altitude air defense, aviation operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and other areas.
The US Embassy explained that the Japan Ground Self-Defense Forces participation in the exercise focused on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training scenarios.
All three countries partnered during a variety of community relations events, including teaching hundreds of local civilians in the Luzon region about lifesaving skills, disease prevention practices, and overall personal wellness.
Col. Yoshikatsu Fujii, 2nd Amphibious Rapid Deployment Regiment, Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade commanding officer, said: “I’m really confident that we have achieved the exercise objective to enhance our humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operational capabilities and foster mutual understanding and relationships among the Philippines, US and Japan.”
“We could not have reached the goal without the cooperation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the United States forces,” the Japanese official added.