MANILA – The United States 3rd Marine Division, under its commander Maj. Gen. Jay Bargeron, are eyeing more joint exercises with their Filipino counterparts in the coming years.
"Maj. Gen. Bargeron conveyed this aim to the Chief-of-Naval Staff, Commodore Jose Ma. Ambrosio Ezpeleta during the former’s courtesy call at the Philippine Navy (PN) headquarters on Thursday, October 6," said Philippine Navy spokesperson, Commander Benjo Negranza, in a statement late Thursday night.
Bargeron said the conduct of more joint and combined exercises is the direction the defense cooperation between the Philippines and the US is heading.
The American military official also underscored the value of cooperation among allies which is being reinforced through exercises conducted in a joint and combined manner.
Bargeron added that these provide incredible opportunities for the conduct of joint operations.
"Echoing Maj. Gen. Bargeron’s aspiration, Commodore Ezpeleta thanked the US counterpart for the interactions and exercises that significantly help the PN to become more efficient in the conduct of its mandated tasks, and a better partner in the region," Negranza said.
Incidentally, US Marine Corps (USMC) units are in the Philippines from Oct. 3 to 14 for the annual "Kaagapay ng Mga Mandirigma ng Dagat" (KAMANDAG) with their Philippine Marine Corps (PMC).
"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 Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.
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. (PNA)