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1,800 Asian, US soldiers in joint military exercise

Michael Punongbayan - The Philippine Star
1,800 Asian, US soldiers in joint military exercise
Military personnel from the UK will also be arriving in the country to observe the conduct of the 7th KAMANDAG drills from Nov. 9 to 20, which will happen in various parts of the country including Palawan, the nearest coastal province to the West Philippine Sea.
Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines — More than 1,800 Filipino, American, Japanese and South Korean soldiers are scheduled to participate in this year’s joint military training exercises in the country between the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) and United States Marine Corps (USMC).

Military personnel from the UK will also be arriving in the country to observe the conduct of the 7th KAMANDAG drills from Nov. 9 to 20, which will happen in various parts of the country including Palawan, the nearest coastal province to the West Philippine Sea.

The USMC announced yesterday that events will include coastal defense training and amphibious operations between marine troops of the Philippines, US, Japan and South Korea aimed at improving multinational military readiness, partnership, and mutual capabilities.

KAMANDAG 7, derived from the Tagalog phrase “Kaagapay Ng Mga Mandirigma Ng Dagat” which means “Cooperation of the Warriors of the Sea” is an annual exercise led by the PMC and the USMC that started in 2016.

“When you talk about dedication to shared regional security, stability and a free and open Indo-Pacific, KAMANDAG is just that. This seventh iteration is historic for many reasons,” Col. Thomas Siverts, commanding officer of the Marine Rotational Force–Southeast Asia (MRF-SEA), said.

“One reason is our continued strengthening alliance reflected in the sheer scope of this year’s exercise. Secondly, MRF-SEA only participated in this exercise last year, and now we are privileged to be leading all US Marine forces in this year’s exercise,” he added.

“Most importantly, we’re able to capitalize on relationships established a year ago. We’re leading and improving interoperability alongside the very same Philippine Marine Corps counterparts,” Siverts said.

The USMC said the exercise will be conducted at various training sites throughout Luzon, Batanes, Zamboanga, Tawi-Tawi and Palawan.

During KAMANDAG 7, approximately 950 members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and 850 US Marines from across I and III Marine Expeditionary Forces will train alongside the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) and the Republic of Korea Marines as the UK Armed Forces bring in observers. 

The USMC said participation from the JGSDF, the Republic of Korea and observers from the UK in this year’s iteration underscores the global importance of maritime security, demonstrating our combined commitment to maintaining stability and peace across the Indo-Pacific region.

“I am confident that KAMANDAG will not only strengthen our operational capabilities but will also foster a sense of trust and mutual understanding among our forces,” Brig. Gen. Jimmy Larida, KAMANDAG 7 director, exercise directorate headquarters, said.

The USMC announced that during KAMANDAG 7, participating forces will conduct humanitarian aid and disaster relief training to include chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear training operations, littoral search and rescue, coastal defense training and amphibious operations; conduct medical subject matter expert exchanges and participate in staff integration events along the eastern and northern coasts of the Philippines.

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