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PH-US Exercise Balikatan Increases Warfighting Capabilities, Complex Live Fire Training

By 2nd Lt. Tori Sharpe | 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade   | April 10, 2019

CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City -- Philippine and U.S. Army, Marine Corps and Air Force service members conducted a Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise (CALFEX) Wednesday at Colonel Ernesto Ravina Air Base, Crow Valley as part of the Philippine-U.S. Exercise Balikatan 2019.

The CALFEX featured the careful orchestration of combined and joint ground and air elements to seize an objective. Prior to the live-fire execution, Philippine and U.S. Army, Marine Corps and Air Force troops spent many days rehearsing to coordinate the success of the mission.

“Service members from across the Philippine and U.S. militaries came together using their ground maneuver, artillery, mortars and air elements to successfully execute this complex live fire event,” said U.S. Army Col. Leo Wyszynski, 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team Commander. “Throughout the exercise, from planning to execution, we've shared tactics and techniques that will allow us better operate together to ensure regional stability.”

During the execution of the CALFEX, the supporting air and ground combat elements worked together to provide indirect and suppressing fire in order to allow the main ground combat element to advance and destroy the notional enemy. Once the combined team neutralized the hypothetical threat, they consolidated in preparation for potential follow-on orders.

“The CALFEX does not only showcase the Philippine and U.S. militaries’ capabilities in combined arms, it also highlights how both militaries work together in joint operations," said Philippine Army Brig. Gen. Leopoldo A. Imbang Jr., 1st Brigade Combat Team Commander.

The CALFEX tested the service members’ maneuver warfare skills and strengthened their ability to fight together. Military training events like CALFEX help participating forces maintain a high level of responsiveness and enhance combined military-to-military relations by enabling a multi-national, multi-service cadre of troops to work together towards accomplishing a common goal.

“Without a doubt, training over the last week has increased the readiness of our forces,” said Wyszynski. “It was an honor to work with the Philippine Army's first ever Brigade Combat Team, the Aegis Brigade, throughout Balikatan and during this exercise. We have learned a great deal about operating in this tropical environment from their leaders and Soldiers.”

The CALFEX was part of a broader series of joint Philippine-U.S. interoperability events during Balikatan, which also includes an amphibious exercise, military operations in urban terrain, and aviation operations.

Exercises like Balikatan strengthen the longstanding alliance between the Philippines and United States. The United States remains committed to promoting military-to-military relations and interoperability with the Philippines and other regional allies and partners, in order to promote regional security.

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