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Counterterrorism, humanitarian aid, disaster response drills open.

A JOINT military exercise involving Filipino and American troops began on Monday even as a Navy contingent aboard a landing dock vessel sailed for Russia to join a scheduled naval parade.

The 10-day Marine Aviation Support Activity (Masa) 19.2, a semiannual exercise between the Philippines and the US, and focused on mutual defense, fired off in the country, a statement from the US Embassy said.

Aside from defense, the Filipino and American troops will hold exercises on counterterrorism and humanitarian assistance and disaster response, added the statement, without disclosing the number of participating troops and the scenes of the training.

The joint training will be participated in by members of US Marines and aircraft from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 and 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, based in Okinawa, Japan.

'Philippine and US service members will conduct cooperation and interoperability training consistent with the Mutual Defense Treaty and Visiting Forces Agreement,' the US Embassy statement said.

'Military training exercises like these allow the US to strengthen our longstanding security alliance with our friends, partners and allies in the Philippines,' it added.

In January this year, the Philippines and the US also held Masa 19.1, which stretched for 24 days at the Basa Air Base in Pampanga and at the Marine base in Ternate, Cavite.

The training was participated in by members of the Philippine Marines and the Philippine Air Force along with the 1st Marine Air Wing of the US 3rd Infantry Division.

Off to Russia

Meanwhile, the Navy contingent involving about 300 Navy and Marines left Pier 13 in Manila aboard the landing dock ship, BRP Davao del Sur, and with the onboard Helicopter Detachment Afloat (HDA).

A statement from the Navy said the contingent headed by Capt. Richard Gonzaga will join in the naval parade in Vladivostok from July 24 to 29 in celebration of Russian Day.

'This is a follow-up of our first port visit last year which hopes to broaden our horizon on capacity building and another opportunity for us to continue and strengthen our bilateral military cooperation and diplomatic relationship with the Russian Federation and other counterparts, as well as an avenue to explore resolutions on issues and concerns mutual to all maritime countries,' Rear Adm. Loumer Bernabe, the chief of the Navy's naval staff, said during the sendoff ceremony.

Aside from joining in the parade, the contingent is scheduled to visit Russia's submarines. The Navy is eyeing to acquire submarines in its capability upgrade program and was looking at Russia as one of its possible sources.

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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Jul 16, 2019
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