MANILA Participating American and Filipino troops in this year's "Balikatan" exercises will revisit the lessons learned by the Armed Forces of the Philippines from the five-month battle to retake Marawi City from the hands from the Maute Group terrorists.
"We want both our forces to learn from our great and hard-earned experience in our past battles like Marawi and I think this is one of the highlight of this year's activity," "Balikatan" Philippine Exercise director Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat said Monday.
Fighting in Marawi started on May 23, 2017 when Maute Group terrorists conducted massive attacks in the city.
It was only declared over after military units succeeded in neutralizing Abu Sayyaf leader and ISIS emir in Southeast Asia, Isnilon Hapilon, Maute co-founder, Omar Maute, and nearly 1,000 militants sometime in October.
The bulk of the urban warfare training, which include the tactics used in countering the terrorists, will be conducted in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija. Salamat said training will be done together by Filipino and US Special Operations Forces.
"Hopefully we can effectively employ necessary tactics, procedures needed to more enhance our response, actions in countering terrorism," he added.
In line with this training, the Filipino official said they have have set-up mock-up facilities to be able to design the training activities in scenarios that will highlight military operations in urban terrain.
In this year's "Balikatan" exercises, around 5,000 soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors from the Armed Forces of the Philippines along with 3,000 coming from the US Marines, Navy, Air Force and Special Operations Force participated in the two-week maneuvers, which started on May 7. It will end on the 18th.
Around 20 personnel from the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force and 60 from the Australian Defence Forces will also participate as observers in the above-mentioned exercises.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that this year's "Balikatan" will focus on inter-operability training to address traditional and non-traditional security concerns.
"Through this exercise, we hope to improve our counter-terrorism capabilities in order to build safer communities and work towards the eradication of global terror networks," the defense chief disclosed.
"We hope that through this activity we will have a stronger teamwork while we endeavor to our common vision of developing long term cooperation and effective interoperability between the Philippines and the United States and our allies," he added. (with Ericka Cirera, OJT/PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency