CACTI soldiers execute ‘platoon-to platoon’ exchange in Philippines

FORT MAGSAYSAY, Philippines—U.S. soldiers from Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment “Cacti,” 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, received a unique opportunity to enhance interoperability with the Philippine Army by executing a “platoon-to-platoon” exchange, as part of Operation Lupao July 9-Aug. 8.

The two-week exercise allowed the “Cacti” soldiers to partner with soldiers from the Philippines’ 3rd Infantry Battalion, 7th Infantry Division and conduct bilateral medical skills training, close quarters and urban battle training, company-size attack exercises and cultural exchanges at Fort Magsaysay.

“The U.S. Army has a lot more in common with the Philippine Army than first meets the eye,” said Capt. Andrew Garwitz, Bravo Company commander. “We share similar doctrine and tactics and they have a welcoming culture that lends itself well with working with another army.”

Although this is the first time the Army has been involved in Operation Lupao, the U.S. and the Philippines have a rich history as allies. Both countries participated in Exercise Balikatan, which just completed its 32nd year, and a testament to the strength of this ongoing partnership.

“There is a brotherhood and a closeness with our Filipino counterparts,” said Sgt. Joseph Forrosuelo, a Bravo Company team leader. “We work together flawlessly.”

The exercise provided an important environment for both sides to teach, learn and grow.

“The Philippine Army has been facing an insurgency for a long time now, so we have a lot we can learn from them as far as counter-insurgency and how to operate in the jungle,” said Garwitz “The best way we can do it is by working side-by-side with them.”#