SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — The RP-US Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) 2013 will formally begin on October 8 in this free port to further enhance the strong defense partnership between the Philippines and the United States.

According to 1Lt. Cherry Tindog, director of the Marine Corps Public Affairs Office, the exercise will give primacy to effective interoperability on humanitarian assistance and disaster response and relief preparedness, maritime security, and community development.

PHIBLEX is conducted annually to serve as a venue for joint and combined training not only for the Marine Corps of the Philippines and the United States militaries, but for the Philippine Army, Philippine Air Force and Philippine Navy’s Air Group and Special Operation Group as well.  “Considering the massive effects of natural calamities that frequent the Philippines and the Asia Pacific Region year in and out, PHIBLEX 13 is designed to enhance interoperability on disaster response and relief operations,” a statement from the PHIBLEX Joint Information Bureau said.

The said bilateral exercise “also aims to formulate and assess concepts for the enhancement of the amphibious operations capacity of both nations, (and) envisions evaluating concepts for transition from Unilateral Defense Plan (UDP) to Bilateral Defense Plan (BDP) to Post-Conflict response, through the conduct of disaster rehabilitation and rural development projects,” it added.

The projects will be undertaken through the Engineering Civic Action Program (ENCAP) and several Community Health Engagements (CHE), which will be conducted in Zambales and Palawan.

The PHIBLEX command said that thousands of local residents will benefit from the CHE and a total of four barangays in Palawan and Zambales will benefit from the ENCAP.  Even before the start of landing exercise, combined engineering personnel have already been deployed to the ENCAP sites to begin the construction of classrooms and toilets, the command also said.

Aside from these activities, PHIBLEX participants will also engage in community relations activities to bring about a “vigorous relation between the military and the civilian community.” On the other hand, various military training activities will be held simultaneously in different venues including the Subic Bay International Airport; 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 Naval Education Training Command in San Antonio, Zambales.

The PHIBLEX command also said that the conduct of PHIBLEX 2013 perpetuates a long and lasting partnership founded firmly on common heritage between freedom-loving countries committed to true service and the preservation of liberty and democracy.  The success of the RP-US military training exercises like the PHIBLEX can also be attributed to the diligent participation and cooperation of concerned local government units, it added. #

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