PCG Joins Coastal Defense Exercise: Enhancing Skills in Deterring Potential Invasions

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The Philippine Coast Guard joins Balikatan Joint Military Exercises

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) made history as it participated in the Balikatan Joint Military Exercises for the first time on Monday. Two PCG ships joined the live-fire coastal defense training in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte.

An Overview of the Balikatan Exercise

The Balikatan Exercise is an annual event that involves 16,000 soldiers from the United States and the Philippines. It began on April 22 and will conclude on May 10. The primary objective of the coastal defense training is to enhance the skills of both US and Filipino forces in deterring potential invading forces.

PCG Ships in the Counter-Landing Live Fire Exercise

The PCG ships, BRP Melchora Aquino (MRRV-9702) and BRP Malapascua (MRRV-4403), actively participated in the counter-landing live fire exercise held at the village of Metro Lapaz. These ships played a crucial role in ensuring the safety and success of the training by patrolling the area and preventing fishing boats and other vessels from entering the exercise zone, thus minimizing the risk of any untoward incidents.

It is important to note that the maritime exercise was not aimed at any particular country, as emphasized by the US task force commander. However, it is worth mentioning that this specific exercise was intended to assist the Philippines in enhancing its territorial defense capabilities in the West Philippine Sea.

The Execution of the Exercise

During the exercise, a pair of M-777 howitzers were strategically placed in the dunes by soldiers from the Hawaii-based 3rd Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment. These howitzers took turns firing 155 mm rounds at a fictional invasion force located approximately four miles offshore.

As the “fictional” enemy approached closer, Filipino troops responded by firing 105 mm artillery. Additionally, members of the Hawaii-based 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment utilized .50 caliber machine guns and Javelin anti-tank missiles to engage floating targets, while a drone provided aerial surveillance overhead.

The combination of these different military assets and coordinated efforts between the US and Filipino forces showcased their readiness and ability to respond to potential threats effectively.

It is worth noting that the inclusion of the Philippine Coast Guard in this joint military exercise marks a significant milestone in the partnership between the United States and the Philippines. The participation of the PCG highlights the importance of maritime security and the need for collaboration between the two nations in safeguarding their respective territories.

The Balikatan Exercise serves as a platform for enhancing interoperability, sharing best practices, and strengthening the bond between the US and the Philippines. By joining forces in this exercise, both countries demonstrate their commitment to maintaining peace, stability, and security in the region.

Moreover, the inclusion of the PCG in the exercise not only enhances their capabilities but also provides an opportunity for the coast guard personnel to gain valuable experience and learn from their US counterparts. This exchange of knowledge and expertise will undoubtedly contribute to the continuous improvement of the PCG’s operations and its ability to protect the Philippines’ maritime interests.

As the Balikatan Exercise continues to evolve and adapt to the changing security landscape, it remains a testament to the strong alliance between the United States and the Philippines. The joint military exercises not only strengthen the defense capabilities of both nations but also foster mutual understanding and cooperation.

Through exercises like Balikatan, the United States and the Philippines demonstrate their commitment to regional stability and their shared responsibility in addressing common security challenges. By working together, they send a clear message that they are prepared to protect their interests and contribute to the overall security of the Indo-Pacific region.

Source: The Manila Times

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