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NEWS | Nov. 22, 2023

Solidarity and Skill: KAMANDAG 7 Cements U.S.-Philippines Defense

By 1st Lt. Charles T. Kimbrough 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

As part of the expansive KAMANDAG 7 exercise, U.S. Marines with Marine Rotational Force-Southeast Asia and their Philippine Marine Corps counterparts, 3rd Marine Brigade, forged a deeper alliance on the island of Palawan Nov. 18, 2023.

As part of the broader bilateral exercise, subject matter expert exchanges on the island of Palawan highlighted the unique terrains of the island as a proving ground for interoperability and shared military objectives. The collaborative events encompassed a comprehensive range of military expertise, from Small Unmanned Aerial Systems exercises along the picturesque coastlines to jungle survival training and maritime sensing drills, integral for regional security.

"These exercises in maritime sensing and SUAS are more than just training—they are a gateway to enhancing our bilateral capabilities in real-world maritime security scenarios,” said U.S. Marine Capt. Philip Badrov, exercise force officer-in-charge with MRF-SEA, reflecting on the importance of the drills.

Taught by the Philippine Marines, jungle survival training tested and improved the adaptability of the U.S. Marines The PMC showcased their deep-rooted jungle warfare expertise, sharing invaluable skills with their U.S. counterparts on constructing hasty shelters from the abundant natural resources, identifying and sourcing proper nutrition directly from the dense underbrush, and demonstrating their minimalist approach to packing for operations in the unforgiving jungle.

Concurrently, medical teams from both nations engaged in exchanges, enriching each other's knowledge in trauma care and humanitarian assistance—key components of the allied forces' readiness for disaster response.

“We are situated in a very dynamic operating environment with vast and porous borders,” said the Commandant of the Philippine Marines, MGen. Arturo Rojas, emphasizing the symbiotic nature of the exercises. “We believe that engaging in exercises with our partners will help us achieve our goals not only for a safer and more secure Philippines but for the South East Asian Region as a whole.”

KD7's multifaceted training also included communication exercises and coastal defense strategies. The partnership between Together, members of MRF-SEA and the PMC showcased a unified approach to military education and developing comprehensive defense strategies.

KD7’s focal point in Palawan illustrated the essence of the alliance—cooperation, skill, and mutual respect were on full display. “Our time here in Palawan has not only honed our skills but also cemented our bonds with the Philippine Marines,” said U.S Marine Lt. Col. Steven Sprigg, executive officer with MRF-SEA. “We stand together, not just in exercises but in our ongoing commitment to peace and stability in the region." U.S. and Philippine Marines fortified their bond—each drill, exchange, and maneuver reinforced the foundation for an enduring partnership and collective defense.

MRF-SEA is proud to have participated in this year’s Philippine-led exercise to enhance collective capabilities through strengthened cooperation among participating forces and will continue supporting regional Allies and Partners in support of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.