Personnel from Philippine and Australian forces have embarked HMAS Canberra in Darwin in preparation for Exercise Alon, which is being conducted for the first time.
Exercise Alon is an ADF and Armed Forces of the Philippines joint bilateral amphibious activity. It will be supported by United States Marine Corps (USMC) personnel from the Marine Rotational Force – Darwin.
The exercise is part of Indo-Pacific Endeavour (IPE) and will involve six ships, multiple aircraft and more than 2000 personnel, including about 700 Australian Federal Police, 1200 ADF and 150 USMC personnel.
Commander IPE Air Commodore Tony McCormack said the exercise would include air, maritime, amphibious and follow-on land operations.
Highlights will comprise a simulated, combined air assault using USMC MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft in Palawan, a combined amphibious demonstration at Zambales and artillery and aviation live-fire serials at Crow Valley in the Philippines.
“Exercise Alon is a significant activity within IPE that offers the opportunity for the ADF to work closely with partner nations, increase interoperability and deepen people-to-people links to enhance defence cooperation,” Air Commodore McCormack said.
“By training together, forces from the Philippines, the United States and Australia can build upon shared tactics, techniques and procedures to enhance interoperability and readiness to respond to shared security challenges.”
Executive Officer Amphibious Landing Force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Lieutenant Colonel Kristine Salon, also emphasised the value of bilateral training exercises.
“It has been great to be in Australia the last few days training with the Australians and US forces and preparing for Exercise Alon,” Lieutenant Colonel Salon said.
“Our troops have been undertaking helicopter underwater escape training, some familiarisation training with the MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft and weapons marksmanship training.
“It’s really a great opportunity for all of us to have a common goal, which is to maintain prosperity, to maintain security, and that is by means of bilateral engagements like this. So I’m really humbled and very thankful that I’m part of Exercise Alon.”
Lieutenant Colonel Salon said Alon was a Filipino term, which meant ‘waves’ in English. It depicts the movement of water from one place to another just like amphibious operations, which are characterised as the movement of ground and air forces from ship to a hostile or potentially hostile shore.
Air Commodore McCormack said the bilateral Australian-Philippines relationship is being upgraded to a strategic partnership this year, with Defence as a core pillar.
“We have a shared interest in a peaceful, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific region, with ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] at its centre,” he said.
Other engagements with the Philippines during IPE will include humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training; gender, peace and security activities; and seminars to bolster understanding of the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea.
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