MANILA — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday formally concluded its multi-service military exercises with a ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
The ceremony officially closed the 12-day AFP Joint Exercise Dagat-Langit-Lupa (AJEX DAGIT-PA), which ran from Nov. 6 to 17.
Some 1,500 personnel from the Philippine Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines participated in the drills. The Philippine Coast Guard also participated in the exercises.
The drills included the following:
- air detection and interception
- maritime security operations
- amphibious operations
- combined arms and littoral live fire exercise
- unconventional warfare encounter and terrorism
- cyber defense training
In an interview with reporters after the ceremony, AJEX DAGIT-PA spokesperson Colonel Michael Logico underscored the importance of strengthening the military’s cyber defenses.
“We are building our own cyber defense capabilities… Cyber defense exercises is going to be a common fixture in joint exercises like on this scale. We recognize that the cyber domain is a crucial area where the AFP has to pay attention to because all of the other kinetic capabilities are also hinged on the cyber domain," Logico said.
"We’d like to emphasize our domains are both physical and non-physical, so when we talk about the physical domains, we’re talking about the ground, air, maritime domains. What is often not talked about is the non-physical domains, like the cyber domain and information subsystems,” Logico explained.
The official said "non-physical domains" could impact the world.
“We are paying very close attention to that and we are also building our capabilities to strengthen our cyber defenses,” he said.
“More than the value of strengthening our cyber defenses is training our own people to be security-conscious and recognizing the threat when we see it.”
This year’s joint military exercises “significantly enhanced the interoperability” of the major service branches, said Major General Marvin Licudine, the drills' director.
“The lessons learned here will serve as a foundation for continuous improvement dedicated ensuring that we stay one step ahead of potential adversities," Licudine said.
"The field training exercises enhanced our major service components in conventional and special operations forces in joint operations,” he added.
Defense Undersecretary Ireneo Espino, who represented Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. during the ceremony, said the AFP took another step in enhancing the country’s external defense operations and capabilities through the exercise.
“Now more than ever, we are keen on significantly improving our country’s capabilities to protect our interests, our sovereignty, our country amid a complex security landscape,” Espino said.
“While we welcome the increasing tempo of our engagements with our foreign counterparts, strengthening interoperability and working collectively to promote a rules-based international order in ensuring the integrity of our own facilities and capabilities falls on our shoulders,” he continued.
“The AFP must fully develop and understand how to navigate and operate in an increasingly volatile security environment," he said.
As the military shifts its focus from internal security to external defense, more exercises in areas along the shore are expected in the future.
“We will be doing a lot of these exercises on a year-long basis. There are skills we have to transition to in order for us to be proficient at external defense operations," he said.
"Some of these require muscle memory we have not flexed before, some capabilities we are acquiring and already utilizing... You will see a drastic shift, away from the tactical and more operational level," he said.