16 October 2012

PHIBLEX 2013 a mutual learning experience

Participants in the on-going RP-US Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX 2013) have expressed appreciation for the opportunity to learn from each other during the training exercises and civic action activities held in this free port and other nearby areas.

About 3,800 military personnel from the US Marines and various units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines are participating in the exercises, which are held variously at the Subic Bay International Airport here; Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija; Marine Barracks Gregorio Lim in Ternate, Cavite; Crow Valley in Tarlac; Naval Station Apolinario Jalandoon in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan; and the Naval Education Training Center in San Antonio, Zambales.

PHIBLEX participants also conducted four community health engagement (CHE) projects, as well as several Engineering Civic Action Program (ENCAP construction projects in Zambales and Palawan.

Lt. Taylor Clarke from the US Marines said that they are very happy about gaining new experiences by observing each other’s practices and techniques.

“We’re here to learn from each other and we are here to exchange techniques and tactics, and just to learn something new because everybody has a different way of going about something. This is the benefit we gain when we came here,” Clarke said.

He also pointed out said that during this year’s exercises, they have conducted various civic action projects, as well as building and repairing school buildings, which he said gives them a chance to work in remote areas and to interact with their Filipino counterparts.

“Honestly I’ve learned a fair amount,” he said.

Lt. Cherry Tindog from the Philippine Marines, meanwhile, sees the exercises as one way to understand each other’s unique capabilities, and to develop bonds.

“We can see that far and beyond the military side of the exercise, this exercise gives us a chance to enhance relationships on a personal level. We gained friendships and an understanding of their culture, of their work ethic, of their professional perspective. We learn from them, and they from us,” she said.

Tindog also explained the importance of conducting the exercises in enhancing disaster response, which is the focus of this year’s PHIBLEX.

“We try to enhance our capabilities and inter-operability, especially on humanitarian assistance and disaster response, considering the massive effects of the disasters that frequent our country and the Asian region,” she said. “It’s important that we operate very smoothly so that in times of disaster, we can reach out to nations that need the services that we can provide.”

As an example, Tindog cited the 2009 flooding caused by Typhoon Ondoy, noting that at that time there was a scheduled PHIBLEX exercise when the disaster struck. She said the PHIBLEX participants shifted from training to actual disaster-response to assist in rescue operations in affected areas.

“It’s a good thing that we have been doing this before, so when Ondoy happened we were ready to respond,” she said.

PHIBLEX 2013 formally commenced here on October 8, with a simple ceremony at the flight deck of USS Bonhomme Richard, an amphibious assault ship of the US Navy, which anchored at Subic’s Alava Pier.

The PHIBLEX command said the training exercises boosts the long-time partnership between the Philippines and the United States and demonstrates their commitment to mutual security.” (FMD/MPD-SBMA)

Local visitors join Philippine military personnel in viewing US military aircraft on display at the Subic Bay International Airport Saturday morning. The static display is part of the on-going RP-US Amphibious Landing Exercise