by 1st Lt. John Doherty, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade
Manila, October 22, 2019 — The Philippines, Japan, and the United States conducted the closing ceremony of exercise KAMANDAG 3 at Marine Barracks Rudiardo Brown, Taguig, Manila, Philippines, Oct. 18, 2019.
The ceremony marked the end of the Philippine-led, bilateral military exercise, which was designed to increase readiness, improve joint responsiveness, and enhance partnership and interoperability between Philippine, Japanese, and U.S. forces.
“Our forces have enhanced capabilities, interoperability, and readiness through teamwork fostered by a true dedication to the attainment of excellence,” said Maj. Gen. Paul J. Rock Jr., 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade commanding general. “Seeing the output of their hard work and expertise, I have the utmost confidence that our forces stand prepared in their mission to uphold peace and security throughout the Indo-Pacific region.”
This year’s KAMANDAG marked two major exercise milestones: the Philippine Marine Corps successfully launched its assault amphibious vehicles (AAVs) for the first time alongside U.S. and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force AAVs to conduct a multilateral amphibious landing; additionally, significant advancements were made during bilateral air defense and threat reaction drills between Philippine and U.S. forces, which support territorial defense training.
“For the past nine days, we saw action, not on the battle field, but on the training grounds, and we sweat and did our best to enhance our Soldiers’ and Marines’ capabilities in warfighting and also humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” said Brig. Gen. Ariel R. Caculitan, Philippine Marine Corps deputy commandant. “The point is we must all be prepared whenever we need these capabilities, either warfighting or humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and I think this whole exercise we have met the goals and objectives.”
Throughout the exercise, Philippine and U.S. service members conducted training in amphibious operations, live fire drills, military operations in urban terrain, reconnaissance, low altitude air defense, aviation operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and other areas.
The Japan Ground Self-Defense Forces participation in the exercise focused on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training scenarios. All three countries partnered during a variety of community relations events, including teaching hundreds of local civilians in the Luzon region about lifesaving skills, disease prevention practices, and overall personal wellness.
“I’m really confident that we have achieved the exercise objective to enhance our humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operational capabilities and foster mutual understanding and relationships among the Philippines, U.S. and Japan” Col. Yoshikatsu Fujii, 2nd Amphibious Rapid Deployment Regiment, Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade commanding officer. “We could not have reached the goal without the cooperation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the United States forces.”
KAMANDAG, which ran from Oct. 9 to 18, is an acronym for the Filipino phrase “Kaagapay Ng Mga Mandirigma Ng Dagat,” which translates to “Cooperation of Warriors of the Sea,” highlighting the strong friendship, partnership, and alliance between the Philippine and U.S. militaries and peoples.