Joint US-PH military exercise begins in Subic Bay
Location: Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Philippines
Date Published: October 09, 2019
The military drill dubbed “Kamandag” or “Kaagapay ng mga Mandirigma ng Dagat (Cooperation of Warriors of the Sea) officially kicked off its third iteration this Wednesday in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.
The 10-day joint military training will involve more than 1,500 Filipino and American troops.
The undertaking is a Philippine-led military training exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and US forces that will run up until Oct. 18, according to Capt. Felix Serapio, director of the Marine Corps Public Affairs Office.
Maj. Gen. Ramiro Manuel Rey, chief of the Northern Luzon Command, led the opening ceremony of the exercise at the Subic Bay International Airport here on Wednesday morning.
According to Serapio, the drill focuses on combined interoperability activities and humanitarian projects.
During Kamandag 3, Philippine and US forces will conduct amphibious operations, live-fire training, urban operations, aviation operations and counterterrorism response operations. Japanese forces will train alongside US and Philippine forces in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.
New for this year’s Kamandag, US, Philippine and Japanese forces will conduct assault amphibious vehicle training together. It will also be the first to include the US and Philippines in low-altitude air defense training and threat reaction training. Together, these activities represent an increase in military capability, and a commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region, and demonstrate the ability to forward deploy forces in the event of a crisis or natural disaster.
The exercise will also feature cooperative health engagements, civil affairs interactions and community relations events throughout Luzon. The purpose is to exchange information on hygiene skills, life support, first response, and safety protocols, as well as to conduct religious ministry, primary education, and athletic events. Humanitarian and civic assistance activities enable our service members to foster improved military to military ties and provide support to local communities.
The training will be held simultaneously in different locations, including Cavite, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, Pampanga, and Palawan.
Manila, which has clashed with Beijing over island territory in the South China Sea, is expanding its amphibious capability. Last year, the Philippine navy commissioned a second sealift vessel called the BRP Davao del Sur.
Last month, Philippine marines trained for the first time with eight amphibious armored vehicles purchased from South Korean company Hanwha Defense, according to Jane’s Defense Weekly.
The vehicles, like those operated by U.S. Marines and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, can each carry up to 25 troops and can be armed with a 40 mm automatic grenade launcher and a 12.7 mm machine gun, as well as smoke grenade launchers, according to Jane’s.
Exercises like Kamandag 3 strengthen international partnerships to rapidly respond to crises throughout the Indo-Pacific region. The goal of Kamandag 3 is to increase counterterrorism, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief capabilities through military exchanges.
The US embassy’s statement on Kamandag doesn’t mention the 2014 Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement, which allows the U.S. military to construct facilities, position defense assets and deploy troops on a rotational basis on five Philippine military bases.