SANTA ANA, Philippines --
U.S. Marines and Sailors representing 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force took part in the first-ever coastal defense exercise held in Cagayan province, Philippines as part of the fifth iteration of exercise KAMANDAG, Sept. 28 - Oct. 8.
Despite COVID-19 restrictions, the U.S. and Philippine Marine Corps, along with the Japanese Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade, continued the annual exercise with appropriate precautions, demonstrating multilateral commitment to mutual defense and stability in the Indo-Pacific.
"We must be able to outmaneuver our enemies in the same way that we shall be able to maneuver this virus and still be able to continue to train,” said Maj. Gen. Ariel Caculitan, Commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps. “We have a big responsibility in terms of defense and security of our people and our nations."
The training in the Philippines included bilateral subject matter expert exchanges, virtually in Palawan, and in northern Luzon in-person. These exchanges focused on coastal defense and counterterrorism as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
“Our partnerships with both the Philippines and Japan are crucial in this area of operations...” Capt. Shane Kim, Logistics Officer for Headquarters Battalion 3rd Marine Division
“We always engage with our U.S. counterparts in training to learn from their armed forces and have camaraderie with them,” said Maj. Jonathan Panganiban, Operations Officer for Marine Battalion Landing Team-10, Philippine Marine Corps. “The objective of this interoperability event is to help develop each Marine to be more proficient in their respective skill set, especially in regards to our coastal defense capability.”
The subject matter exchange in Santa Ana culminated in a tactical exercise where U.S. and Philippine Marines practiced bilateral planning for coastal defense and contingency operations based on a scenario provided by the Philippine Marine Corps.
Capt. Shane Kim, Logistics Officer for Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, was deployed to the Philippines with the exercise force for the duration of the execution. “Our partnerships with both the Philippines and Japan are crucial in this area of operations, so the opportunity to increase our interoperability with these partners as part of a multilateral exercise both here in the Philippines and in Japan improves our ability to integrate forces rapidly and respond to crisis anywhere in the region.”
“KAMANDAG” is an acronym which stands for: “Kaagapay ng mga Mandirigma ng Dagat,” which in Tagalog means “cooperation of warriors of the sea.”