Monday, October 17, 2005

Philippine, USA Troops To Kick Off Joint Military Exercises

The Philippine and US troops will start a two-week joint exercises named "Talon Vision and Amphibious Landing Exercises" next week, which is aimed at increasing inter-operability and combat readiness of the two troops, said Philippine and US military sources and local media reports.
An opening ceremony for the joint exercise was held Friday at the Philippine Marine headquarters at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig in Metro Manila. Some 4,500 US troops, including marines and navy units, all of them from the US bases in Okinawa, Japan, will join the exercise, while 700 Philippine marines and air force troops will participate,according to Philippine military sources. The exercises will be held in Luzon, including the former US air base of Clark Field in Pampanga, as well as the provinces of Tarlac, Cavite, Nueva Ecija and Zambales. Apart from combat exercises, medical and civic action programs as well as engineering activities will also be undertaken by Philippine and US troops. US troops hold regular military exercises in the Philippines starting in 2002 under the name of counter-terrorism under a mutual defense treaty. US troops have also been providing their Philippine counterparts with intelligence support in hunting down terrorists like the Abu Sayyaf group and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), reportedly active in the southern Mindanao region. The US Government has recently offered a bounty of 11 million US dollars for the capture of two JI leaders accused of staging the 2002 Bali bombings in Indonesia, in which 202 people, mostly Westerners, were killed. The two men are reportedly hiding in Mindanao, according to US and Philippine security officials.