The two-week military exercises, officially called the Philippine-US Bilateral Exercises (Phiblex), are designed to improve interoperability, increase readiness, and continue professional relationships between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and US military, said 2Lt. Cherryl Pontillas, Phiblex spokesperson.
Pontillas said about 2,000 US Marines from the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force and American sailors from the Essex Expeditionary Strike Group will join US Air Force pilots in ground, air, and naval integration trainings.
From the Philippine side, an estimated 2,000 soldiers from various AFP units will also participate in the military exercises that will be held simultaneously in military camps in Cavite, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, and Pampanga.
"Aside from these exercises, the Philippine Marines together with other AFP units will join US military personnel in joint community relations activities," Pontillas said.
"Earlier this week, 14 Marine and Fleet Officers left for Okinawa, Japan to participate in training-related activities aboard the USS Essex on Oct. 9," the Phiblex spokesperson added.
Other activities lined up during the joint exercises include medical and dental missions, school construction, classroom repairs and painting, and community beautification projects in selected local communities in Northern Luzon, she said.
Meanwhile, Pontillas said small US boat units carrying Marines and sailors started conducting community relations projects after completing their amphibious landing exercises yesterday in Ternate, Cavite.
"These boat raid exercises form part of the civil military operations that will be conducted in Ternate, Cavite in which the local populace would benefit from the healthcare services and community relations projects," Pontillas said.
"Similarly, the said exercise improves the operational readiness and amphibious capabilities of the Philippine Marines and sailors and their US counterparts," she added.
The Philippines has been receiving a significant increase in US foreign assistance in the East Asia Pacific region, particularly in the field of military training and financial support, since 2001.