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RP-US forces engage in live fire exercise as part of Balikatan 2019

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By Francis Wakefield

A military exercise that showcased the Philippine and United States militaries’ capabilities in combined arms was conducted in Tarlac on Wednesday, April 10.

The Combined Joint Information Bureau, Balikatan 35-2019, disclosed that Philippine and U.S. Army, Marine Corps and Air Force service members conducted a Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise (CALFEX) at Colonel Ernesto Ravina Air Base, Crow Valley as part of the 35th Philippine-U.S. Exercise Balikatan 2019.

Brig. Gen. Leopoldo A. Imbang, Jr., 1st Brigade Combat Team Commander, said aside from demonstrating their arms capabilities, the combined arms exercises also highlighted how both militaries work together in joint operations.

“The CALFEX featured the careful orchestration of combined and joint ground and air elements to seize an objective,” he said.

Imbang said Philippine and U.S. Army, Marine Corps and Air Force troops spent many days rehearsing to coordinate the success of the mission prior to the live-fire execution.

United States Army Col. Leo Wyszynski, the 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team Commander, said the CALFEX tested the service members’ maneuver warfare skills and strengthened their ability to fight together.

Wyszynski said military training events like CALFEX help participating forces maintain a high level of responsiveness and enhance combined military-to-military relations by enabling a multi-national, multi-service cadre of troops to work together towards accomplishing a common goal.

During the arms exercises, the supporting air and ground combat elements worked together to provide indirect and suppressing fire in order to allow the main ground combat element to advance and destroy the notional enemy.

He said once the combined team neutralized the hypothetical threat, they consolidated in preparation for potential follow-on orders.

“Service members from across the Philippine and U.S. militaries came together using their ground maneuver, artillery, mortars and air elements to successfully execute this complex live fire event,” Wyszynski said.

“Throughout the exercise, from planning to execution, we’ve shared tactics and techniques that will allow us to better operate together to ensure regional stability,” he added..

Wyszynski said the CALFEX was part of a broader series of joint Philippine-U.S. interoperability events during Balikatan, which also includes an amphibious exercise, military operations in urban terrain, and aviation operations.

“Without a doubt, training over the last week has increased the readiness of our forces,” said Wyszynski.

“It was an honor to work with the Philippine Army’s first ever Brigade Combat Team, the Aegis Brigade, throughout Balikatan and during this exercise. We have learned a great deal about operating in this tropical environment from their leaders and soldiers,” he said.

The joint information bureau said exercises like Balikatan which will run until April 12 strengthen the longstanding alliance between the Philippines and the United States.

It added that the United States remains committed to promoting military-to-military relations and interoperability with the Philippines and other regional allies and partners, in order to promote regional security.

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