MANILA, Philippines – Two US Navy ships arrived at the Subic Bay Freeport this week to participate in the Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) that will officially start on Monday, September 29.
- The USS Peleliu (LHA 5), an amphibious assault ship
- USS Germantown (LSD 42), an amphibious dock landing ship of the US 7th Fleet
“During the exercise, the Peleliu and Germantown will support Philippine and US troops in amphibious-operations training designed to strengthen military responses to regional issues, humanitarian disasters, and maritime-security needs within the Asia-Pacific region,” the US Embassy said in a statement.
Like the Balikatan exercises between the US and Philippine militaries, PHIBLEX is also held annually but the activity is exclusive to the sailors and marines of the two country’s navies. (READ: PH-US war games: boat raid, live fire)
The PHIBLEX exercises this year will take place throughout the coasts of Luzon and Palawan, some facing the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
The annual exercises are aimed at improving inter-operability between the 2 treaty allies, which is crucial at a time when the Philippines is expecting the US military to help if the territorial disputes with China comes down to armed attacks. (READ: Obama: US commitment to PH ‘ironclad’ and How far will the US go to defend the Philippines?)
The Philippines filed an arbitration case against China and seeks to stop its construction activities in the disputed waters.
USS Peleliu‘s primary mission, according to the US Embassy, is “to embark and deploy combat-ready Marines, along with their equipment and supplies needed to conduct a variety of missions including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, and land them ashore by rotary-wing aircraft and amphibious craft.”
The mission of USS Germantown, on the other hand, is”to project power ashore by transporting and launching amphibious craft and vehicles loaded with embarked Marines in support of amphibious operations.”
The following exercises will be held in the following locations:
- Live fire exercises at Crow Valley, Capas, Tarlac
- Boat raid exercise at Arrecife Island, Sofronio Espanola, Palawan
- Mechanized assault exercise at Naval Education Training Center, Zambales
- Combined live fire exercise at Crow Valley, Capas, Tarlac
PHIBLEX will formally open at the Naval Forces West headquarters in Palawan province on Monday. Up to 3,000 Americans and 1,000 Filipinos are joining the 12-day exercises.
The US and the Philippines signed in April a military agreement that will expand US military presence in the Philippines to allow the Americans to construct facilities, upgrade infrastructure, as well as store and preposition defense and disaster preparedness equipment, supplies, and materiel.
EDCA was signed at a time that US was proclaiming its rebalance to the Pacific, a strategy that is now highly doubted because of the escalating situation in the Middle East. – Rappler.com