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MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines will be hosting in early October the 2023 iteration of “Samasama,” a yearly joint exercise between the naval forces of the Philippines and the United States.
The exercises will be held from October 2 to 13 around the Naval Forces Southern Luzon area of operations, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Gil Ileto said in a press statement on Wednesday, September 27.
According to Ileto, activities include the fundamentals of anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, anti-air warfare, and electronic warfare.
Interoperability drills – or exercises on how the two forces work well together – will focus on “warfighting serials,” said the AFP.
The navies of Japan, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom will also participate in the joint exercise via subject matter expert exchanges and disaster response table-top events to “further improve maritime integration and combined interoperability,” the AFP said.
Personnel from the French and Australian navies will take part in the subject-matter expert exchanges while the New Zealand and Indonesian navies will be present as observers, said the AFP.
The US is Philippines’ sole treaty-ally. Joints military drills between the two countries are rooted in the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty.
The annual drills will be held amid rising tensions between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea. In mid-September, Manila said the marine ecosystem in Rozul Reef and Escoda (Sabina) Shoal showed extensive damage following the presence of Chinese maritime militia vessels in the area.
Just a few weeks later, the Philippine Coast Guard reported and then removed a floating barrier placed by the China Coast Guard around the opening of Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag Shoal, a traditional fishing area for Filipino fisherfolk. – Rappler.com