By Francis Wakefield
SAN ANTONIO, Zambales – Some 160 United States Marines and 50 Philippine Marines took part in Thursday’s Amphibious Exercise (AMPHBEX) at the Naval Education Training Command (NETC) here as part of the Balikatan Exercises between Filipino and United States troops.
Lt. Commander Liezl M. Vidallon, the Public Affairs Officer of Balikatan 2019 for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) side, said this year’s amphibious exercise was participated by personnel from the Philippine Navy, Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) and their counterparts from the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps.
Vidallon said for the exercise scenario, members of the New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs) infiltrated and besieged the NETC and blocked all road nets, thus preventing those who will help in neutralizing the enemy from entering the roads.
“The only option is to project combat power from sea to the shore in order to neutralize the enemy, thus the need to conduct an amphibious assault,” Vidallon said.
Vidallon said during the amphibious exercise, 11 AAVs (Amphibious Assault Vehicles) from the U.S. Navy were seen slowly moving from the sea towards the coastline.
Some of the AAVs, she said, are manned by both U.S. and Philippine Marine troops.
The amphibious assault vehicle (AAV), also called assault amphibian vehicle, is an armed and armored military vehicle designed to deliver assault troops and their equipment from ship to shore under combat conditions.
AAVs are tracked vehicles that transport troops and materiel over water and continue to function ashore under hostile fire as logistical vehicles or as fighting vehicles.
Also taking part in the exercise is the Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC), a class of air-cushion vehicle (hovercraft) used as landing craft by the United States Navy’s Assault Craft Units.
A number of U.S. MV-22 Osprey, which can tilt its rotors to fly like either a helicopter or a fixed-wing aircraft, was also seen flying in the horizon.
Taking part in the amphibious exercise for the side of the Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force is BRP Tarlac (LD-601) and an OV-10 Bronco, a light attack and observation aircraft, respectively.
The USS Wasp (LHD-1), a United States Navy multipurpose amphibious assault ship, and the lead ship of her class, was also present during the exercise.
However, the United States Marines Corps’ F-35B Lightning II aircraft were not used in the exercise.
With the Philippine Navy set to acquire four AAVs from South Korea, Vidallon said Philippine Marine Corps personnel were able to learn the best practices from their U.S. counterparts that they can apply here in the country.
Meanwhile, U.S.Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Tori Sharpe, the Exercise Balikatan Media Officer, said the amphibious exercise was a good opportunity for both the Philippine Marines and the US Marines to share best practices.