News: US, Filipinos welcome bilateral partnership
By Cpl. Brandon L. Saunders
CLARK FREEPORT ZONE, Republic of the Philippines – The opening ceremony for Amphibious Landing Exercise 2011 here today marks the 27th year of a combined effort between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps team.
Bilateral training between the U.S. Marine Corps and the AFP is part of the long-term security cooperation program between the Republic of the Philippines and the U.S.
Brig. Gen. Mark A. Brilakis, commanding general of the 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade, and Brig. Gen. Joel C. Maragay, commander of the 1st Air Division of the Philippine Air Force, expressed appreciation for the opportunity to work together during the ceremony.
“Interoperability means more than just to fight together,” said Brilakis. “This exercise is a symbol of our commitment to the Philippines and the Pacific theater.”
Maragay mirrored his counterpart's enthusiasm and understanding of the gravity of this particular alliance.
“As we open this exercise, let us hope for the success of both our activities,” Maragay said.
Although the ceremony is held to formally introduce this year's Phiblex '11, bilateral training has been taking place since the beginning of last month.
Brilakis said that preparation for the exercise can take up to a full year.
Phiblex '11 bolsters a varied bilateral civic action program, including the construction of two school houses, as well as various medical, dental and veterinary projects. The purpose of those projects is to further demonstrate bilateral interoperability and extend humanitarian services, in addition to bilateral military skills training.
“I am proud to command a force of wide capabilities for a varied set of missions,” said Brilakis.
This year's exercise motto, 'Sama-Sama sa Pagbigay Kalinga,' or 'Togetherness for the people' was communicated by both country's representatives.
“There should be no walls or boundaries between us,” said Maragay. “Let us bridge gaps and transcend cultural lines.”
For more stories and photos from Phiblex '11, visit www.facebook.com/Phiblex11