MANILA — The Philippines and Australia will conduct 15 defense-related activities next year, the Philippine Army said Monday.
The activities will include trainings focused on internal security, counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, external defense, and even in dealing with disasters, said Army commanding general Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr.
“Most of these activities are focused on bilateral trainings. Tuloy-tuloy ang ating trainings. Nakita natin ang ating kakulangan bilang Philippine Army, kaya humingi tayo ng tulong sa ating partners na turuan tayo ng kanilang mga taktika, and also for us to be able to adapt to the new weapon systems that are out there,” Brawner told reporters.
“This gives us a glimpse of the modern type of warfare. We would like to prepare also our Filipinos soldiers to be able to operate in the future wars,” he added.
Brawner said such bilateral trainings could send a message to the world: that armies in the Indo-Pacific are “one and together in our objective of preventing war in the region.”
“By training together, we not only develop our respective skills and capabilities, but more importantly, we give the message to the world that we are one, solid and can work together to prevent war, and in case war happens, that we are able to transition smoothly and work together effectively," he said.
Brawner added that the Philippines conducting trainings with its allies and partners was not geared towards a specific country or competitor.
“Ang ginagawa natin ay nagtitraining with our partners nang sagayon ay lumakas ang ating AFP and PA, at handa tayo humarap sa anumang threat na dumating,” Brawner said.
PH, AUSTRALIA HOLD 'KASANGGA' DRILLS
The Philippine Army and Australian Defense Force concluded the first part of their Kasangga bilateral exercise on Monday.
A total of 114 soldiers from the Philippine Army 2nd Infantry Division (2ID) and 43 soldiers from the Australian Defense Force took part in the three-week exercise.
The troops exchanged knowledge and skills on urban operations, combat tracking, long range marksmanship, jungle warfare, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.
Australian Defense Attache to the Philippines Col. Paul Barta said Australian troops learned so much about jungle warfare and survival from their Filipino counterparts.
“Kasangga or partnership, we have an Australian term mateship or bayanihan. What we’ve seen in the recent weeks is soldiers who did not know each other coming together, training and developing trust and interoperability,” Barta said.
He then continued: “The big thing is that Australia is part of the region and we are working with friends in deepening relationships and interoperability. We’re at the home of jungle fighters. Australia has not fought in a jungle in a long time, so we are learning a lot from Filipino soldiers.”
In the same way, Filipino soldiers gained knowledge and skills from their Australian counterpart, especially on urban operations and close quarter battle.
“Napakalaki. Unang una, we train ang Division Reconnaissance Company (DRC) as a company, as a unit. Ang DRC ang most used sa mga operation. The training they gain from Kasangga will really make them more confident pagdating sa critical missions,” said Maj. Gen. Roberto Capulong, commander of the 2ID.
“With the kind of training they received from our Australian counterpart, it’s something new to them and will really help them be more effective in the performance of their mandate,” he added. “During Marawi, isang skill na talagang mahina tayo is urban operations, so ito ay one of the focus na ginawa ng ating Australian counterpart. Itong weak skill ng soldiers natin ay nadevelop fully during this training.”
The two armies also opened the second part of Kasangga on Monday. This time, a new batch of 122 soldiers from the 2ID will take part in the bilateral exercise, which will be held from June 5 to 25 in Rizal.
Capulong said the two batches of Army personnel will cascade newly learned tactics and procedures to other units.
“Our training system is structured. We usually train the trainers. But if we feel the unit needs these types of skills, we program them in our in-house training. May programa kami kung ano ang kulang na skill. The skills we gain from here and the people who trained can serve as our instructors to our units. That will be on a case to case basis, as the need arises,” he explained.