By by Lance Cpl. Andy Martinez, III Marine Expeditionary Force
CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, JAPAN -- Approximately 100 U.S. Marines with 1st Marine Aircraft Wing joined forces with the Armed Forces of the Philippines to support the first iteration of the Philippines-led exercise KAMANDAG, at various sites on the island of Luzon, Philippines, October 2-11, 2017.
Four MV-22 Ospreys with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st MAW and two KC-130J Hercules with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152, MAG-12, 1st MAW, will provide aerial support through transportation of personnel, food and supplies.
The four Ospreys served as transportation of the joint humanitarian assistance survey team, which is the first echelon of response for the Marines in Okinawa in the event of a disaster. The Ospreys allowed the JHAST to quickly reach the Philippines and make an immediate assessment of the scope of a simulated disaster.
KAMANDAG, an annual bilateral exercise, will enable military-to-military exchanges between the U.S. and Philippine forces, with a focus on enhancing counterterrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities, and conducting humanitarian and civic assistance projects. Both countries’ service members will work together during multiple combined events in order to enhance techniques and procedures, enabling them to learn and grow both through tactics and personal relationships.
“Our main mission is to continue to promote bilateral training and operations with the Filipino military,” said Maj. Ethan Learmonth, an operations officer with VMM-262, MAG-36, 1st MAW. “We’re here to learn how two different forces can integrate and work together in an event of a humanitarian crisis.”
“We are offering transportation,” said Learmonth. “This could mean transportation for food, troops, water, medicine and medical personnel in the event of a natural disaster.”
Designed to integrate the U.S. Marine Corps with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, KAMANDAG allows service members to identify their weaknesses and build their skills for HADR missions, in order to be better prepared for them in the future. This exercise will improve combined responsiveness to crises in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, and further reinforce our decades-long partnership.
“[KAMANDAG] has a greater focus on the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief aspect,” said Learmonth. “Working directly with the Filipino military to create a scenario that will closely mimic what we would face if there was a large disaster that hit the Philippines. The training there is fantastic, the people are welcoming, the environment is very friendly to our training and mission here.”