TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The U.S., Philippine, Japanese, and South Korean militaries, along with observers from the U.K., kicked off the KAMANDAG 7 training exercise on Thursday (Nov. 9) to improve military readiness.
The exercise runs from Nov. 9-20 and will be conducted at several sites across the Philippines, including Luzon, Batanes, Zamboanga, Tawi-Tawi, and Palawan, according to a U.S. Marine Corps statement. Over 12 days, soldiers will conduct humanitarian aid and disaster relief training, chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear training operations, littoral search and rescue, coastal defense training, and amphibious operations. Troops will also exchange medical expertise and participate in staff integration events.
The term KAMANDAG comes from the Tagalog phrase "kaagapay ng mga mandirigma ng dagat," meaning "cooperation of the warriors of the sea." The U.S. and the Philippines have conducted KAMANDAG annually since 2016, and “it is one of many exercises demonstrating the participating nations’ long-standing commitment to defense cooperation and regional security,” the U.S. Marine Corps said.
Philippine Marine Corps Brigadier General Jimmy D. Larida said, “I am confident that KAMANDAG will not only strengthen our operational capabilities but will also foster a sense of trust and mutual understanding among our forces.”
The joint exercise comes amid rising tensions in the Taiwan Strait. China has ramped up military activities around Taiwan, prompting it to bolster its asymmetric warfare capabilities. The U.S. has also increased its presence in the Philippines, in part due to China’s expansionist goals.
The U.S. gained access to four more military bases in the Philippines in April under the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Arrangement. This allows the U.S. to deploy troops across nine bases in the nation.