Phl, US troops stage boat raids
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - May 10, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine and US troops yesterday conducted boat raids on the shores of Zambales as part of the ongoing Balikatan military drills.

About 80 members of the Philippine Navy and Marines and around 40 US Marines joined the amphibious exercise held in the province where Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal is located.

The shoal is 124 nautical miles from the nearest point in Zambales and is well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. China, however, is also claiming the area, which is rich in marine resources.

China has sent ships to the shoal to assert its territorial claims, effectively barring local fishermen from operating in the area.

Officials, however, said that the Balikatan exercises have nothing to do with the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.

Lt. Annaleah Cazcarro, spokesperson for Balikatan 2014, said the amphibious operation is considered the “bread and butter” of Philippine Marines.

“The amphibious operation shows how marine elements work hand-in-hand in effectively responding to various situations both on land and at sea,” she said.

Philippine Navy ships BRP Ramon Alcaraz and BRP Dagupan were used in the exercise.

During the drill, three rubber boats carrying scout swimmers were dislodged from BRP Dagupan stationed about one nautical mile from shore. On land, the troops conducted reconnaissance operations where a simulated enemy camp was installed.

After the reconnaissance operation, the participants staged an assault drill against the simulated enemy and went back to BRP Dagupan aboard two small unit riverine craft and several rubber boats.

“The Balikatan exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and US Armed Forces being conducted every year is aimed at enhancing both militaries’ interoperability,” Cazcarro said.

“It is an opportunity for both Philippine and US soldiers to train and exchange information to better perform our mandate, and efficiently respond to various situations on land and at sea,” she added.

 Balikatan 2014 started last May 5 and focuses on maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

Around 3,000 Filipino soldiers and 2,500 American military personnel are conducting drills in various camps nationwide.

 Balikatan 2014, the 30th iteration of the annual bilateral exercise, will be held until May 16.

 

ANNALEAH CAZCARRO ARMED FORCES ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES BALIKATAN DAGUPAN PHILIPPINE MARINES PHILIPPINE NAVY PHILIPPINE NAVY AND MARINES RAMON ALCARAZ WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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