12-day exercises involving 3 PH military branches end
MANILA, Philippines—A 12-day military exercise of the three service branches of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), aimed at enhancing interoperability, ended on Friday (Dec. 4).
At least 1,100 troops from the Air Force, Navy and Army carried out exercises across Luzon, dubbed AFP Joint Exercises Dagat-Langit-Lupa, designed to improve readiness and response to enemy attack, disasters and territorial conflict.
AFP chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay said improving interoperability of three military branches “is key to successfully confront current and emerging security issues, both traditional and nontraditional.”
“The true prowess of the Armed Forces of the Philippines can only be realized through well-coordinated actions where each component effectively contributes to the accomplishment of our objectives,” he said.
Some of the major exercises were cyber defense in Camp Aguinaldo, amphibious operations and island retaking in Zambales province and combined arms live fire drills in Tarlac province.
One of the drills focused on training troops for logistics runs to Pag-asa Island, the largest of Philippine-occupied features in the West Philippine Sea.
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“There have been issues in the past especially on the matter of other claimants in the area, but as we said this is part of our mandate to sustain our personnel,” said Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, exercise director, earlier this week.
“Let us remember, specifically Pag-asa Island. It’s the seat of the municipality of Kalayaan. It’s part of our territory,” Arevalo added.
The military also simulated an invasion in which Philippine troops had to retake an invaded island using land, sea and air assets.
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Arevalo, however, refused to say if this part of the exercises was aimed at any country, particularly China, in relation to the Philippine military’s role in protecting the country’s sovereignty over areas in the West Philippine Sea that are under threat from Chinese militias.
“It may be giving the same message,” Arevalo said. “Whether we say it or not, they will always take it that way if they have to,” he added.
“Then so be it. In so far as the AFP is concerned, this is part of the need for capability and readiness regardless of threats, if any,” he said in Filipino.
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