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Philippines, U.S., Japan hold military drills near West PH Sea

MANILA, Philippines – The navies of the Philippines, the US, and Japan began on Monday, October 14, a weeklong series of joint exercises based off Palawan, the Philippine province nearest the contentious West Philippine Sea.

In a ceremony in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, the Philippine Navy, the US Navy, and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) formally opened the third iteration of the Maritime Training Activity (MTA) Sama-Sama (altogether), which used to be called Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT).

This is Japan’s first time to join its strategic allies, the Philippines and the US, in the yearly drills.

Sailors from the 3 countries will work together on both shore-based and at-sea activities “designed to allow participating navies to undertake complex maritime training utilizing diverse naval platforms and operating areas,” the US Pacific Fleet said in a statement.

Shore based activities include maritime domain awareness, force protection, medical care, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, explosive ordnance disposal, dive-and-salvage operations, engineering, aviation, as well as visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) operations.

At sea, the 3 navies will do VBSS drills, division tactics, a search and rescue exercise, helicopter deck landing qualifications, anti-air and surface warfare tracking, and vessel-of-interest tracking.

“The MTA Sama-Sama is one of the very important training exercises as it provides an avenue for the participants to develop and enhance joint interoperability to respond to regional crises,” said Major General Dante Hidalgo, Vice Commander of the Philippine Navy.


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