SANTA ANA, Philippines –
U.S. Marines and Sailors representing 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force took part in the first ever coastal defense exercise held in Cagayan Province, Philippines, as part of the fifth iteration of Exercise KAMANDAG, from September 28 to October 8.
Despite COVID-19 restrictions, the U.S. and Philippine Marine Corps, as well as the Japanese Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade, continued the annual exercise with appropriate precautions, demonstrating a multilateral commitment to mutual defense and stability in the Indo-Pacific.
“We have to be able to outsmart our enemies in the same way that we can maneuver this virus and continue to train,” said Major General Ariel Caculitan, commander of the Philippine Marine Corps. “We have a great responsibility in terms of the defense and security of our people and our nations.”
The training in the Philippines included two-way exchanges of subject matter experts, virtually in Palawan and in person in northern Luzon. These discussions focused on coastal defense and the fight against terrorism, as well as humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations.
“We always engage with our US counterparts in training to learn from their armed forces and have camaraderie with them,” said Maj Jonathan Panganiban, operations officer, Navy Battalion Landing Team-10, Philippine Marine Corps. “The goal of this interoperability event is to help develop each Navy to be more proficient in their respective skills, especially with regard to our coastal defense capability.”
The topic exchange in Santa Ana culminated in a tactical exercise where the U.S. and Philippine Marines practiced bilateral planning for coastal defense and emergency operations based on a scenario provided by the Philippine Marine Corps .
Captain Shane Kim, logistics officer for Battalion Headquarters, 3rd Marine Division, was deployed to the Philippines with the exercise force for the duration of the run. “Our partnerships with the Philippines and Japan are critical in this area of operations, so the opportunity to increase our interoperability with these partners in a multilateral exercise both here in the Philippines and in Japan enhances our capability. to integrate our forces quickly and respond to the crisis anywhere in the region.
“KAMANDAG” is an acronym which means: “Kaagapay ng mga Mandirigma ng Dagat”, which in Tagalog means “cooperation of the warriors of the sea”.
This press release was produced by Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. The opinions expressed here are those of the author.