NEWS | May 11, 2018

Balikatan 18: AFP, U.S. Military Forces Conduct Combined Amphibious Exercise

By Petty Officer 1st Class Nardel Gervacio 8th Marine Regiment

SAN ANTONIO, ZAMBALES, Philippines -- The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and U.S. military forces came together 9 May 2018 to conduct an amphibious landing exercise at the Naval Education and Training Command during exercise Balikatan 2018.

The exercise included members from the Philippine Marine Corps, and the U.S. Marine Corps, Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. Together they executed a beach landing using Assault Amphibious Vehicles (AAV) and Landing Craft, Utility.

“Today we’re training with our Philippine Marine Corps counterparts, and our objective will be to seize a beach,” said Sgt. Victor Berg, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania assigned to Fox company, based in Camp Lejeune, N.C. “They're going to join us in AAVs along with two other platoons and basically do a company size maneuver inland.”

Amphibious training allows U.S. and Philippine forces to provide a more capable combined disaster response effort during operations ashore.

Once on land, they continued to clear and secure the beach while receiving simulated enemy fire.

“We have a solid standard operating procedure, and as soon as we got our footholds, they were able to flow very smoothly right past us. We were able to do a solid link-up,” said Berg, the 1st squad leader in his platoon.

The amphibious exercise was also meant to reinforce the landing and clearing techniques among the combined forces in a similar environment or conflict area.

“I’m grateful to be working with our U.S. Marine counterparts,” said Sgt. Benjie Licay, assigned to 10th Marine Co., Philippine Marine Corps. “I have done this exercise seven times with the Marines and always learned a lot. I feel lucky to be a part of this exercise.”

Training efforts between the U.S. military and AFP ensure that the combined force remains ready to rapidly respond to crises across the full range of military operations from conflict to natural disaster.

“It’s very important that we continue to train together. We’re here to improve our long-standing relationship,” Berg said.

By training together, the U.S. military and AFP build upon shared tactics, techniques and procedures that enhance readiness and response capabilities of both forces.