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Monday, April 15, 2024

‘Lock and load’

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WHILE the military has already procured a modest number of state-of-the-art air, land and sea assets halfway through its 15-year modernization program, the acquired pieces of hardware at hand may not be able to fully serve their purpose in a real war situation sans troop training, proficiency and cohesion.

As declared by the Armed Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Andres Centino, all units of the military must always strive to train as a “single force” in order to achieve a better unity of command and take stock of “synergy” in military operations.

Joint exercises

AND so, for two weeks last month, the soldiers trained in all fronts and aspects of a modern war under its biggest training exercises AJEX “DAGIT-PA” or Dagat, Langit, Lupa, utilizing all of its acquired assets and armaments, including its unmanned aerial systems.

The drill, a joint exercise by the Army, Navy and Air Force, sought to enhance the military’s capability on interoperability operations by drawing up events in battlefield scenarios and letting the participants figure out how to do battle with them and achieve victory.

The war games ranged from scenarios of cyberattacks to air and sea operations and live firing to urban battle, among others.

“The regular conduct of joint training exercises or the conduct itself of joint operations certainly allows the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] to maximize its array of capabilities in any given threat situation,” Centino said.

Armed Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Andres Centino: “The regular conduct of joint training exercises or the conduct itself of joint operations certainly allows the AFP to maximize its array of capabilities in any given threat situation.”

Cyber-war aspect

THE AJEX DAGIT-PA opened with a four-day cyber defense exercises, which tested the readiness and capability of the military’s cyber forces to respond and wage joint cyberspace operations.

The drill was joined by the AFP Cyber Group; AFP Communications, Electronics and Information Systems Service, and the cyber units of the major armed services.

According to Major Gen. Francisco Ariel Felicidario III, commander of the AFP Education Training and Doctrine Command and DAGIT-PA’s exercise director, the goal of the cyber exercise was to “protect, detect, respond and recover from cyber attacks in order to maintain the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the AFP cyber infrastructure and systems.”

Stages and scenarios

AS cyber warriors fight the war in cyberspace that may attempt to technologically cripple the military, the Navy ships BRP Antonio Luna (FF151) and BRP Tarlac (LD601) left South Harbor in Manila to undertake maritime and amphibious operations in the Visayas, with the target of clearing the fine beaches of Panay Island from the enemy.

Aboard the two ships were a mixture of units and equipment, including the amphibious assault vehicles of the Philippine Marine Corps.

They would soon be joined by the BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS17); BRP Waray (LC288); BRP Agta (LC290); BRP Enrique Jurado (PC371); BRP Abraham Campo (PC396); BRP Fort San Felipe (AGS700); naval helicopters; the Maritime Amphibious Ready Unit; the Navy Platoon Reservists; a team from the Naval Construction Brigade; the Naval Special Operations Command; Naval Special Operations Unit-5; Fleet Training Doctrine Center; and the Naval Information and Communications Technology Station-Central.

Aircraft, including a Sikorsky helicopter, an ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) plane, FA-50 fighter jets, combat air controllers, the 710th Special Operations Wing, the Navy’s Special Boat Team and Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team also joined them.

Among others, the maritime exercise was held “in preparation for eventual realities,” while enhancing the military’s capability in performing its required and mandated task to defend the country, according to Navy Capt. Raul Regis, acting commander of the Naval Forces Central and DAGIT-PA’s amphibious force commander.

Altogether, the units honed their skills during the first day of maritime operations that included communication, air defense, gunnery, ISR, maritime air surveillance, surface warfare and flashing exercises.

On the second day, the exercises were rehearsed, but this time, it covered other units and activities that include maritime interdiction; visit, board, search and seizure; maritime search and rescue; evacuation and deck landing procedure.

A SEAL team also simulated a rescue operation aboard a ship, which was tracked by an AgustaWestland helicopter of the Navy.

As composite forces sharpened their skills in sea-borne operations under the cover of Air Force assets and tested their interoperability operations, Army forces carried out live-fire and urban operations exercises.

The Army’s Armor Division, infantrymen and pilots from the Army’s Aviation Regiment were joined in the war exercises by troops from the Air Force and Philippine Marines.

‘Interoperability’

ACCORDING to Army spokesman Col. Xerxes Trinidad, the combined arms live-fire exercise and urban operations highlighted the “interoperability of the AFP’s different services in addressing conflicts in urban terrain using combined forces and military assets to quell violence and terrorism.”

All in all, the DAGIT-PA saw the involvement of combat engineering equipment, armored vehicles, fixed-wing aircraft, artillery guns, K9 teams and Explosive Ordnance Division teams from the Army.

For the Air Force, its FA-50 jets, Super Tucano light-attack aircraft, AgustaWestland attack helicopters, Black Hawks, UAVs and other aircraft saw action.

On the other hand, the Navy used its frigates, patrol ships, landing dock, naval helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, while the Marines employed their amphibious assault vehicles, artilleries and trucks.

Indeed, the Philippine Constitution (Art. II, Sec. 2) says it all: “The Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy, adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation and amity with all nations.”

However, there is nothing wrong with preparing for any contingency, given the recent developments that have forced no less than the country’s defense chief to speak out more frequently and loudly against constant bullying by a giant neighbor.

Images courtesy of LTJG Frances Maye Macapinig, Public Affairs Officer, Naval Forces Central and AFP

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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