Nearly a thousand Navy officers, sailors, and members of the Navy Seals and Marines would start four days of drills in western Mindanao on Monday afternoon, October 25.
Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) commander Rear Admiral Toribio Adaci Jr. said the naval exercises would formally commence in Zamboanga City at 4 pm Monday, but the actual drills would take place in Basilan and Sulu provinces until October 29.
The exercises aim to train naval forces and test NFWM’s planning and execution of operations.
Adaci said the exercises would also help the Navy assess and determine traditional and non-traditional naval operations that can be retained or improved.
Dubbed as the Pagsisikap Naval Exercises 2021, the drills would involve 945 Navy officers, Navy Seals, personnel, and reservists, and a fleet of nine naval ships in western Mindanao.
The exercises would also include the members of the Marine Amphibious Ready Unit (MARU), aboard the Navy’s biggest ship Landing Dock BRP Tarlac (LD601), a helicopter, and a civilian-owned vessel that would serve as the drill target.
Adaci said they would simulate Marine operations using assault vehicles traveling from the sea to the shorelines, and naval guns and Spike Extended Range (ER) missiles would be used.
Navy Captain Alan Javier, exercises director and commander of the Naval Task Force 62, said the drills would showcase the “Fleet-Marine concept in the planning and execution of naval and amphibious operations in the littoral battlespace,” and highlight the integral role of inter-agency collaboration in the conduct of maritime and naval operations.
Lieutenant Senior Grade Chester Ross Cabaltera, NWFM public affairs officer, said this week’s exercises would be a continuation of an October 21 mock beach raid from the waters off the Naval Station Romulo Espaldon (NSRE) in Zamboanga City, by the Marines and Navy Seals aboard Landing Dock BRP Tarlac.
“The exercises will test the mettle of the Philippine Navy’s warships and crew,” Adaci said. – Rappler.com
Frencie Carreon is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship