PUERTO PRINCESA, PHILIPPINES --
In the pursuit of enhancing security and defense capabilities, the Philippines and the United States armed forces have developed longstanding partnerships characterized by trust and cooperation. These partnerships, based upon the 1951 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty and subsequent agreements, have enabled numerous joint exercises across all service components, including Marine Aviation Support Activity 23. During MASA, U.S. Marines exercised with Philippine counterparts to increase military preparedness and interoperability, contributing to regional stability.
This year was the first time Marine Rotational Force – Darwin participated in MASA. The command element of the Marine Air Ground Task Force deployed forward to command and control forces operating across the country.
“The continued cooperation of U.S. and Philippine Marines through exercises like MASA is a sign of the ironclad U.S.-Philippine alliance. We are committed to enhancing the combined and joint interoperability between our two nations in conducting tactical and heliborne operations,” said Colonel Brendan Sullivan, commanding officer, Marine Rotational Force - Darwin.
“Together, we forge unbreakable bonds that foster unity and reinforce the foundation of our enduring alliance.” Colonel Brendan Sullivan, commanding officer, Marine Rotational Force - Darwin.
MASA 23 is an annual bilateral event that joins together the Philippine Marine Corps and the United States Marine Corps (USMC) in a series of joint training exercises. Taking place in various locations across the Philippines, the exercise aims to enhance interoperability, promote shared learning, and build a more cohesive response to regional security challenges. This year's training events featured a coastal defense and stressed traditional means of command and control. The primary objectives of MASA 23 are to improve the tactical capabilities of both the Philippine and U.S. Marines, and to strengthen the bonds of friendship and trust between the two forces.
MRF-D Marines and Sailors benefited from the expertise of Philippine Marine Subject Matter Experts, who provided insights into the unique challenges and operating environments in the Philippine archipelago. As a region of strategic importance in the Indo-Pacific, the Philippines presents distinct conditions that necessitate adaptive approaches to military operations. This mutual learning fosters a spirit of cooperation and strengthens the ability of both forces to address shared security concerns effectively.
Photo by Cpl. Earik Barton
U.S. Marines with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, unload gear to begin Marine Aviation Support Activity 23 at Puerto Princesa International Airport, Palawan, Philippines, July 12, 2023. MASA 23 is a bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the U.S. Marine Corps, aimed at enhancing interoperability and coordination in support of U.S.-Philippine mutual defense.
MASA 23 is closely tied to the implementation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and the United States. Signed in 2014, the EDCA improves the capabilities of Philippine Armed Forces through U.S.-funded infrastructure improvements at Philippine military locations. Improvements funded by the EDCA allowed for U.S. and Philippine Marines to expand locations used during MASA.
The Marine Aviation Support Activity exercise in the Philippines serves as a powerful symbol of the strong and enduring partnership between the Philippine and U.S. Marines. Through MASA, both forces enhance their tactical capabilities, learn from each other's expertise, and deepen their understanding of the unique challenges posed by the Philippine archipelago. As the MASA exercise continues to evolve, the exercise ensures that the Philippines and the United States stand united in the face of shared security challenges.
For questions regarding this story, please contact the Marine Rotational Force-Darwin media inquiry email address at MRFDMedia@usmc.mil. Imagery from this rotation and previous can be found at dvidshub.net/unit/MRF-D.