U.S. Marines kicked off bilateral training exercises with their Philippine military counterparts Sunday with a long-range helicopter raid at Basa Air Base in Pampanga province in the Philippines.
About 70 members of the Okinawa-based 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted the raid while fellow Marines and members of the Philippines air force acted as the opposing force, said 31st MEU spokesman Capt. Burrell D. Parmer in a news release.
Members of 5th Marine Regiment’s Battalion Landing Team planned and executed the training as part of bilateral exercises Talon Vision and Amphibious Landing Exercise 2007, he said.
The raid involved reconnaissance and surveillance of the base for a couple of days to obtain intelligence and identify an individual, played by a Marine, to be “captured or neutralized,” Parmer said. Two CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters were used to insert and extract the raiding party.
The simulation also was an opportunity for the Philippine airmen to put recent medical training provided by U.S. Marines and Navy corpsmen to use, Parmer said.
The most important thing taken away from the training was an exchange of ideas, said Philippines air force Capt. Maynard Mariano, according to the news release.
The annual exercises will run through Oct. 31. Some 5,700 U.S. Marines and sailors are involved in the exercises, including Marine air squadrons from Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, MCAS Iwakuni and the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade. Also taking part are sailors from the Essex Expeditionary Strike Group, Task Force 76, based at Sasebo Naval Base.
The exercises include live-fire drills, amphibious landings and combined air, ground and naval maneuvers in northern and southwestern Philippines. The Marines and sailors also carry out humanitarian missions.
As the exercise began, the importance of the joint training was underlined Sunday by a terrorist bomb on Jolo Island in the country’s Muslim south that wounded two people.
That was preceded by three bombings last week that killed six people and wounded 29.
Philippine authorities said the attacks were by the al-Qaida- linked, Jolo-based Islamist separatist group Abu Sayyaf and the Indonesian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah.