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Philippine Marines with Marine Battalion Landing Teams 8 and 10 build a wooden shelter at a jungle shelter class during KAMANDAG 7 at Paredes Air Station, Philippines, Nov. 10, 2023. KAMANDAG is an annual Philippine Marine Corps and U.S. Marine Corps led exercise aimed at improving multinational readiness, relationships, and mutual capabilities in the advancement of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific. This year marks the seventh iteration of this exercise and includes participants from Japan, the Republic of Korea, and observers from the United Kingdom. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jacqueline C. Parsons)

Photo by Sgt. Jacqueline Parsons

3d Marine Littoral Regiment Concludes KAMANDAG 7

12 Dec 2023 | 1st Lt. Erin Scudder 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment

Northern Luzon, Philippines- 3d Marine Littoral Regiment demonstrated its readiness and ability to establish a forward presence during exercise KAMANDAG 7. From Nov. 9-17, 3d MLR conducted Stand-in-Force operations alongside the Philippine Marine Corps’ 4th Marine Brigade and Coastal Defense Regiment, the Japan Self-Defense Force, and service members from the United Kingdom in multiple training locations spread across Northern Luzon.

KAMANDAG is an annual Philippine Marine Corps and U.S. Marine Corps-led exercise aimed at improving multinational readiness, relationships, and mutual capabilities in the advancement of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific. This year marks the seventh iteration of the exercise and includes participants from Japan, the Republic of Korea, and observers from the United Kingdom.

During the exercise, 3d Littoral Logistics Battalion worked alongside the Philippine Marine Corps to build a jungle obstacle course, executed humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training with the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, and conducted community relations engagements at local hospitals, schools, and businesses. 3d Littoral Combat Team conducted bilateral small-unit infantry training, including land navigation, patrolling, immediate action drills, and jungle survival classes. Finally, 3d Littoral Anti-Air Battalion conducted man-portable air-defense system classes and an air-defense practical application alongside the Coastal Defense Regiment. The training created shared learning and provided opportunities for both nations to improve standard operating procedures and build relationships in preparation for future bilateral exercises.

The jungle obstacle course consisted of ten obstacles spanning 403 meters around Camp Cape Bojeador. Following the construction, the course was dedicated in a ceremony with Gen. Brawner, Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and Col. John Lehane, commanding officer of 3d MLR. The obstacle course will serve as a symbol of the partnership between the Marines and will continue to foster comradery and competition for years to come.

“It’s an obstacle course. It can be used by troops, both from the U.S. and the Philippines, in order for us to prepare ourselves physically and make ourselves stronger,” said Gen. Brawner, Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines. “But the symbolism of this is that both countries worked together to build something. It could be an obstacle course today; it could be something bigger in the future.”

Throughout the HADR training, the partners conducted a tabletop exercise that used a historical tropical cyclone event to create opportunities for the units to work through the process of tasking, delegating, and allocating assets alongside representatives from the U.S. Agency for International Development and the PDDRMO. The training allowed the force to work through friction points and set the ground for future 3d MLR HADR training opportunities across Northern Luzon.

During the tabletop exercise, the combined force received a task to pre-position relief supplies at Paredes Air Station. Upon receiving the task, service members from the PMC, JGSGF, and USMC conducted the first-ever trilateral convoy in Northern Luzon since establishing the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement sites.

“The tabletop exercise was a great opportunity to establish a combined coordination cell and work alongside the PMC and PDDRMO,” said Maj. William Culp, operations officer, 3d LLB. “The Philippines is very capable when it comes to disaster relief. We learned a lot and look forward to growing our HADR training in future exercises.”

In July, 3d MLR participated in Marine Aviation Support Activity 23. As USMC forces were in the process of departing the Philippines upon the exercise’s conclusion, Typhoon Doksuri struck the Philippines. For 72 hours, Marines and Sailors with 3d MLR assisted with clearing roads and offloading local disaster emergency supplies and equipment for those affected by the typhoon. Throughout the Kamandag 7 tabletop exercise, 3d MLR focused on lessons from Typhoon Doksuri to improve coordination and communication with the partner government and military.

“KAMANDAG 7 provided an invaluable opportunity for 3d Littoral Logistics Battalion to train alongside the Philippine Marine Corps, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, and the United Kingdom in a realistic environment,” said Lt. Col Osman Sesay, commanding officer of 3d LLB. “Together, we are a stronger force, and KAMANDAG 7 was a perfect opportunity for 3d LLB to improve upon pre-existing relationships between the Philippine Marine Corps and U.S. Marine Corps.”

3d MLR’s successful participation in KAMANDAG provides proof of concept to Force Design initiatives as 3d MLR tests its newly minted mission essential tasks and strengthens relationships with their Philippine Marine Corps partners. The exercise demonstrated 3d MLR’s ability to operate across disparate locations in Northern Luzon, conduct integrated command and control with partner forces, and conduct crisis response. 3d MLR will continue to exercise in the first island chain alongside the joint and combined force, providing lessons learned to the new 12th Marine Littoral Regiment.
3D Marine Littoral Regiment