Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

3,500 US soldiers arrive in Subic for joint military exercises

More than 3,500 U.S. sailors and marines aboard the three ships of Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) arrived today at the Alava Pier in SubicBay , to join about 400 others from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), who arrived over the weekend, for the bilateral exercises Talon Vision and Amphibious Landing Exercises (Philbex).

Today's arrival complete the composition of U.S. forces joining their Filipino counterpart for the two-week exercises which officially opened Monday in ceremonies at the Fort Bonifacio Naval Station in Metro Manila, according to exercises spokesperson, Capt. Burrell Parmer of the U.S. Marine Corps.

The ARG is comprised of the assault amphibious ship USS Essex (LHD 2), USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), and USS Juneau (LPD 10), Parmer said.

The routine bilateral exercises, being held from October 16-31, 2006, in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija, Clark Economic Zone and Basa Air Base in Pampanga, Capas, Tarlac, San Antonio, Zambales and the island of Palawan, are designed to improve interoperability, increase readiness, and continue professional relationships between the U.S. military forces and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The U.S. ships also offloaded engineering equipment, vehicles and supplies for the civic operations.

The U.S. service members are based mainly in Okinawa, Japan and are attached to 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB), while their Filipino counterpart in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have come from all over the islands.

At the opening ceremonies Monday, U.S. Marine Col. Chester Jolley, chief of staff for 3rd MEB, said the "all the exercises are designed to improve interoperability and to strengthen military relationships.

"That is our mission during (the exercises) and with our long history together, I'm sure we will be successful," Jolley said.

Col. Julius Guillermo, director for operations of the 600th Air Base Wing at Clark Air Base of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) said "we are steered here again to mark the start of a new milestone that will bind us together in cooperative spirit for the next two weeks and further strengthen our two nations' historical bondage (sic)."

Philippine Marine Col. Rustico Guerrero, superintendent for the Marine Corps Training Center, and Paul Jones, the deputy chief of mission for the U.S. Embassy in Manila, also commented on the continuing relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines.

"The U.S. and the Philippines are really proud partners together in insuring security for our peoples. We have a long, strong tradition of cooperation and mutual support to the people of our countries," Jones said.

Philippine Marine Maj. Gen. Nelson Allaga, commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps, expressed belief that the exercises "have become more significant in the light of the emerging global and regional security concerns."

"We (Marines) share common ideas and aspirations, ideas of excellence, professionalism, pride in the unit and a deep sense of commitment to service," Allaga said as he rallied both the Philippine and American contingents "which share common values."

While the exercises officially began Monday, the RP-US military team already conducted a medical/dental civic action mission, and involved in an ongoing engineering civic action project in San Antonio, Zambales.

A helicopter-borne raid was conducted Sunday by the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in Basa Air Base in Pampanga. (PNA)


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