(Screengrab from Philippine Marine Corps Facebook video)

MANILA – Japanese and South Korean troops will act as observes for the first time in this year's iteration of the "Kaagapay ng Mga Mandirigma ng Dagat" (KAMANDAG) exercise which runs from Oct. 3 to 14 in various areas in the Philippines.

The primary participants in the training activity are the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) and the US Marine Corps (USMC).

"I think this is the first time both the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) and the Korean Armed Forces (Republic of Korea Marine Corps) will be participating but they will be here as observers," Philippine Navy (PN) acting flag-officer-in-command Rear Adm. Caesar Bernard Valencia said in a press briefing during the exercise's opening rites at the PN Officers Club in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City.

He also added that these troops could only participate in humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) training.

"The KAMANDAG is a bilateral exercise between the USMC and the PMC so it's basically limited to that, and they will just be here as participants as observers and perhaps in HADR operations," Valencia said.

With the threat posed by climate change, he noted that there could be "more robust activities and participation in HADR operations."

"KAMANDAG" translates to “Cooperation of the Warriors of the Sea”.

Around 530 PMC and 2,550 USMC personnel are joining the exercise along with 100 members of the ROK Marine Corps and 30 from the JGSDF.

The US troops will be coming from the US 31st and 11th Marine Expeditionary Units.

Some 100 members of the Philippine Navy and Air Force will also join the exercise.

The exercise aims to enhance bilateral cooperation and interoperability among participating forces in the conduct of combined tactical operations that focus on capacitating the Marine Amphibious Ready Unit and enhancing their capabilities in special operations, coastal defense capability, HADR operations, and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear operations.

This year's 'KAMANDAG" is the sixth iteration of this exercise.

PH, US armies see more logistics interoperability

In line with ongoing efforts to enhance the interoperability of both militaries, the Philippine Army (PA) and the US Army Pacific (USARPAC) concluded the second phase of its "Logistics Subject Matter Expert Exchange" (LOGSMEE) in Oahu, Hawaii last Sept. 30.

The event took place at Fort Shafter, Oahu, Hawaii, and was hosted by the USARPAC's 8th Theater Sustainment Command (8TSC), Army spokesperson Col. Xerxes Trinidad said on Monday.

"Col. Jonjie Juguilon, PA's Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for Logistics, and Col. Tracy Lanier, USARPAC's 8TSC Deputy Commander, spearheaded the four-day bilateral activity in Hawaii," he added.

The LOGSMEE, which is alternately hosted by the Philippines and the US, is aimed at enhancing the interoperability of both armies in logistics operations.

"It also provides a platform for sharing best practices on logistics operations in support of combined arms operations and sustaining strong relations between PA and USARPAC logisticians," Trinidad said in a statement.

Key logisticians of both armies held the 2022 LOGSMEE’s first phase in Taguig City last July. (PNA)