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Philippines, Australia hold joint drills in Isabela

MANILA, Philippines — At least 150 Philippine and Australian soldiers are taking part in a joint training as part of the first leg of this year’s Kasangga exercise in Gamu, Isabela.

Philippine Army spokesman Col. Louie Dema-Ala said the bilateral training, which started on Monday, would run until June 21.

A total of 100 Filipino soldiers participating in the joint drills are members of the 86th Infantry Battalion of the 5th Infantry Division (ID).

The training will cover reconnaissance, mortar, drone operations, logistics, signal operations, jungle and urban, tactical combat casualty care and breaching operations.

Dema-Ala said the activities include sharing of experiences in fighting terrorist groups.

Brig. Gen. Santiago Enginco, 5th ID assistant commander, was the keynote speaker during the opening ceremony.

Maj. Michael Cracknell of the Joint Australian Training Team-Philippines and coordinator of the Australian embassy as well as Maj. Lindsay Pritchard, commander of the Australian Army’s First Battalion, attended the launch of the joint drills.

Members of the Australian Army were among the guest participants in the recently concluded Balikatan exercises between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the US military.

Aside from the 16,000 members of the AFP and US military, contingents from the Australian Defense Force and the French Navy participated in the Balikatan.