Philippine and U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force service members conducted a bilateral amphibious exercise (AMPHIBEX) April 11, 2019 at Naval Education and Training Command (NETC), Zambales as part of the U.S.-Philippine Exercise Balikatan 2019.
The AMPHIBEX landing, which involved the movement of assault amphibious vehicles (AAVs) from L-class ships to shore, demonstrated the bilateral force’s ability to seize a littoral objective as part of a complex, combined arms operation between Philippine and U.S. ground, naval and aviation assets.
“The Amphibious Exercise remains a relevant training opportunity for both the Philippine and U.S. military forces, as it further enhances our capabilities during operations from sea to land,” said Philippine Marine Corps LtCol. Rommel B. Bogñalbal, Commander, 8 Marine Battalion. “It allows us to be more effective in the rapid deployment of troops from ship to shore under hazardous circumstances, whether during dangerous natural disasters or hostile enemy actions.”
During the execution of the AMPHIBEX, a team of U.S. infantry Marines launched AAVs from the USS Wasp to seize a beach at NETC, in order to enable a follow-on team of Philippine Marines to land. The Philippine Marines aboard U.S. AAVs then launched from the landing platform dock ship BRP Tarlac (LD-601) and conducted the main effort attack on the objective. Philippine and U.S. fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft provided tactical and logistical support throughout the amphibious and ground maneuvers.
“The AMPHIBEX [showcased] all the reasons Balikatan is such an important and valuable exercise,” said U.S. Marine Corps Col. Jason Perry, Marine Air-Ground Task Force 4 commander. “As a U.S. Marine Corps expeditionary force in readiness, training like this provides us an opportunity to integrate with Philippine and other U.S. forces to rehearse and refine our ability to project combat power ashore from the sea.”
This year’s AMPHIBEX was particularly important for the Philippine and U.S. militaries because the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will begin using their own AAVs later this year, as part of the AFP Modernization Project. The AMPHIBEX allowed the Philippine and U.S. crewman to share best AAV practices, techniques and procedures with one another, in order to assist in the development of the AFP’s new AAV doctrine.
“We are very excited to be adding our own AAVs to our inventory of military assets later this year,” Bogñalbal said. “They are a great advancement for our military, since they increase our amphibious capability. It has been very beneficial working with the U.S. on their AAVs the past few years, which has been the basis for us to build off of, and we look forward to furthering those capabilities together even more.”
The AMPHIBEX strengthened the service members’ ability to conduct amphibious operations and fight together. Military training events like the AMPHIBEX help participating forces enhance combined military-to-military relations by enabling a multi-national, multi-service cadre of troops to work together towards accomplishing a common goal.
“We increased our interoperability with Philippine forces to make ourselves a more effective fighting force in support of our shared alliance,” said Perry. “It is our combined capability partnered with strong and committed allies that make us a combat-credible force ready to respond to crises wherever they may emerge. Today was an opportunity for us to not only talk about the strength of our alliance, but to actually demonstrate it.”
The AMPHIBEX was the culminating event of a broader series of joint U.S.-Philippine interoperability training exercises during Balikatan 2019, which also included a combined arms live-fire exercise, military operations in urban terrain, and aviation operations.
Exercises like Balikatan strengthen the longstanding alliance between the Philippines and United States. U.S.-Philippine military collaboration has served as a cornerstone for stability in the Indo-Pacific region for decades, and as treaty allies, both forces share a continuing interest in reinforcing maritime security efforts, addressing shared extremist threats, and strengthening security in the Indo-Pacific region. US 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade