Elite PH, US units launch joint exercises in Basilan
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine and US armies have launched a 3-week war fighting capability training in Basilan, a war-weary province plagued by threats including the Abu Sayyaf group.
The joint exercises, called "Balance Piston," was launched on Wednesday, November 5, at the headquarters of the 4th Special Forces Battalion in Basilan.
"It is focused on enhancing the AFP war fighting capability and interoperability with US forces," said Captain Eugem Espino, military spokesperson in Basilan.
It is a regular army-to-army special operation exercise under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). It involves the Armed Forces of the Philippines Special Operation Command (AFP-SOCOM) and the US Special Operations Command Pacific (SOCPAC).
The exercises began as Basilan mayors called for intensified military operations against the Abu Sayyaf following the killing of 6 soldiers, including a fresh graduate of the Philippine military academy. (READ: Basilan's hero: Fresh PMA grad dies in Abu Sayyaf hands)
The exercises, which will last until November 26, usually include marksmanship, helicopter medical evaluation, combat lifesaving techniques, cross training of Philippine and US personnel on airborne operations, and medical civic operations. – Rappler.com