Philippine and U.S. Service members strengthen partnerships, improve disaster response in joint US-RP military drill

Manila —Through mud and rain, after repairing schools, firing artillery, conducting flight operations and disaster preparedness training, Philippine and U.S. service members are now better prepared to respond to natural disasters and security threats in the region. This is the result of Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise 33 (PHIBLEX), completed as scheduled on Oct. 11.

During PHIBLEX, Philippine and U.S. service members built upon a long and productive history of joint military exercises that enhance interoperability, strengthen partnerships, and improve disaster response. The interoperability of Philippine and U.S. troops guarantees a more rapid response to natural disasters such as Super Typhoon Haiyan and the Bohol earthquake, saving lives and reducing suffering.

Philippine and U.S. Marines also practiced an amphibious landing at Subic Bay, using assault amphibious vehicles to move troops ashore from the USS Germantown, a U.S. Navy amphibious ship. When Philippine and U.S. forces practice an amphibious landing together, our nations are better prepared to bring water, medical supplies, and other relief to the people of the Philippines during a natural disaster. In addition to the amphibious landing exercise, Philippine and U.S. service members conducted a live-fire combined-arms exercise and training on a wide range of skills, including marksmanship, parachute operations, map reading, and first aid response.

In the month preceding the exercise, Philippine and U.S. service members in Cagayan Valley spent more than 17,000 hours renovating four elementary school classrooms and two outdoor auditoriums. They repaired roofs and installed 500 feet of steel gutters and 2000 feet of drainage systems to make the schools more resilient to heavy rainfall. U.S. military medical teams also taught students and teachers basic lifesaving skills, disease prevention, and physical and dental hygiene – all critical during times of crisis. To help prepare for a natural disaster hitting the region, U.S. troops coordinated with local municipal leadership to identify locations capable of supporting relief operations and helped develop crisis response plans.

PHIBLEX is an annual U.S.-Philippine military bilateral exercise that combines amphibious capabilities and live-fire training with humanitarian assistance efforts to strengthen interoperability and working relationships.#