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NEWS | July 10, 2023

Strengthening Alliances: U.S. Marines return to the Philippines for MASA 23

By 1st Lt. Oscar Franquez, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

In a testament to the enduring commitment to strengthening regional partnerships and fostering military cooperation, U.S. Marines (USMC) and Sailors from across I and III Marine Expeditionary Forces (MEF) are arriving in the Philippines to participate in Marine Aviation Support Activity (MASA) 23, scheduled to take place throughout the Philippines from July 6-21. Unique to this exercise, U.S. Command and Control will be executed by I MEF (Forward), commanded by Brig. Gen. Robert Brodie.

“I MEF (Forward) is honored to take part in MASA 23.  Our relationship with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), particularly the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC), continues to flourish with every exercise,” said Brig. Gen. Brodie, Commander of I MEF (Forward).

Another clear demonstration of the steadfast Alliance between the Philippines and the U.S., this exercise highlights the mutual dedication to enhancing aviation-oriented defense capabilities and promoting stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

The MASA exercise provides a dynamic platform for the PMC and their U.S. counterparts to cultivate interoperability, refine operational tactics, and strengthen their ability to execute combined missions effectively. Scheduled training events include live fire exercises, bilateral air assaults, joint forward arming and refueling, and other aviation support operations consistent with the Mutual Defense Treaty and Visiting Forces Agreement.  This rigorous training will augment individual service members' proficiency and elevate the collective operational capabilities of both militaries.

“MASA 23 brings together not only the PMC and USMC but also the United States Air Force and other major services of the AFP,” said Philippine Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Jimmy D. Larida, Philippine Marine Corps, director, Exercise Directorate Headquarters. “This exercise provides a unique opportunity for us to engage in cooperative training, share expertise, and further deepen the bonds of friendship that have been forged over years of joint operations.”

Additionally, the exercise offers an invaluable opportunity for I MEF to rehearse emerging concepts and display the utility of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) as a robust and integrated force, combining ground, air, and logistics elements into a cohesive unit.

“Marines train and fight as a Marine Air-Ground Task Force, and the expeditionary nature of Marine Corps operations allows us the flexibility to design tailored and adaptable forces capable of addressing an array of missions spanning competition to conflict,” Brodie said.

The MAGTF is a versatile and scalable force that can be deployed swiftly and effectively in a variety of situations. It consists of four key components: the command element, the ground combat element, the aviation combat element, and the logistics combat element. By aligning these components, the MAGTF maximizes flexibility and adaptability, a critical advantage in today's complex operational environments.

“During MASA 23, I MEF (Forward) forces will integrate ground, air, and logistics elements with Philippine Forces to share and develop unified approaches to complex security challenges. We are eager to learn from our Philippine Allies, strengthen relationships, and foster regional stability,” Brodie said.

By engaging in collaborative exercises like MASA 23 and building upon years of military alliance, the U.S. and the Philippines send a resounding message of unity and readiness to face security challenges and advance the shared vision of a free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.

“To all the participants, both from the PMC and the USMC, I urge you to make the most of this opportunity. Engage, learn, and build lasting relationships with your counterparts. Take advantage of the expertise and knowledge shared during the training. Together, we will enhance our capabilities, improve our readiness, and strengthen the ties that bind our two great nations,” Larida said.

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