THE Philippine Army will start on Wednesday a month-long joint exercise with Special Operations forces of the United States that will focus on anti-terror operations, an Army official said Tuesday.
Col. Benjamin Hao, Army spokesman, said 30 to 40 personnel from the Philippine Army’s Special Operations Command will participate in the drill called “Balance Piston 16-4” that will last until December 14.
“This is an annual training event to test the basic war fighting skills of our soldiers and improve the relationship of each Armed Forces, each group. We are doing this yearly and this time we will conduct it in Palawan City area together with our special forces and special forces of the United States. However, I cannot tell you the exact number. What I can tell you is this is just a small force,” he said.
There will be no live fire exercises however.
“We already reduced the live firing. But there would still be marksmanship training inside camp because we have to improve the marksmanship skills,” Hao pointed out.
The drill will focus on tactical combat casualty care, marksmanship, small unit tactics in a riverine coastal environment, maritime interdiction, combat swimmer operations and air operations mission planning, among others.
Earlier, Arsenio Andolong, director of the Public Affairs Service of the Department of National Defense (DND), said security officials will discuss before the Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board (MDB-SEB) the “reduced” number of joint exercises between the Philippines and the US.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has recommended the reduction of war games to about less than 10.
Andolong said there used to be 28 exercises every year but the previous administration reduced it to about 13. Lorenzana wants to cut this number by half.
“So now with the new administration it will come down to about half of that, so it would be half a dozen. There is no definite figure yet because it is still being discussed,” he said.
The exercises that will be terminated are naval drills called Philippines Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) and Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT).