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Phl, U.S. kick off maritime security drills



The Armed Forces has started training with the United States Navy and Marine Corps to enhance maritime security capabilities.

This year’s Marine Exercise (MAREX) kicked off on Thursday and would see the two countries’ forces conduct maritime operations training to enhance mutual defense capabilities and response to natural disasters, the U.S. Embassy in Manila said in a statement.

Activities slated for the exercise, which will last until February 2, include amphibious assault coordination and execution, subject matter expert exchanges, and integrated maritime operations such as search and seizure operations and tactical maneuvering.

Participating U.S. maritime assets include the USS Essex, USS Portland, and USS Pearl Harbor, with the embarked forces of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. They will be joined by different units of the Philippine Navy and Marines.

In a separate statement, the Philippine Marines said all amphibious planning and executions will be in the Western Command area in Palawan, while humanitarian and disaster response training will be held in Western Mindanao and joined by the provincial government of Tawi-Tawi.

Due to the pandemic, however, participants will minimize contact throughout the exercise and implement protocols to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“Our goal is to successfully integrate our forces during planning and execution to conduct a full-scale, expeditionary amphibious operation, side-by-side with our Filipino partners. This exercise will further strengthen our commitment in the Indo-Pacific region,” said Col. James Lively, Commanding Officer, U.S. 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Capt. Karry DeWayne Sanders, commodore of the U.S. Navy’s Amphibious Squadron 1, said the drills will also strengthen America’s enduring alliance with the Philippines in the Indo-Pacific region.

“Our shared focus of regional security, stability, and prosperity in the Pacific will continue to enhance our partner nation’s capability as it has for the last seven decades,” he added.