Mateship thrives in inaugural exercise

4 September 2023

For the first time, the ADF and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), with the support of the United States Marine Corps (USMC), have conducted Exercise Alon, focusing on combined amphibious operations.

Multiple ships, aircraft and about 2400 personnel – including 1200 from the ADF, 1000 from the AFP and 150 US Marines – participated in the exercise in the Philippines from August 14 to 31.

ADF Chief of Joint Operations Lieutenant General Greg Bilton attended two key activities and said the exercise was a significant activity within Indo-Pacific Endeavour that increased interoperability, deepened people-to-people links and enhanced defence cooperation.

“I was extremely proud to see how the ADF, AFP and USMC worked so closely in this complex training and know that we will continue to build on our already close relationships,” Lieutenant General Bilton said.

“I’d like to express my gratitude to the Philippines for graciously hosting us and for their very kind hospitality.”

The exercise included combined force integration in Darwin and on board HMAS Canberra, an air assault exercise and a combined amphibious assault exercise across the Philippines.

The Palawan air assault exercise in Rizal on August 21 simulated combat scenarios, enhancing the forces’ preparedness and operational readiness across air, sea and land. More than 600 soldiers from the ADF, AFP and USMC, and RAAF F-35A Lightning II and E-7A Wedgetail aircraft supported this exercise.

In the combined amphibious assault exercise in Zambales on August 25, a combined amphibious landing force was launched from Navy ships to secure beach landing sites.

Assets from across the three nations supported the drills, including HMA Ships Canberra and Anzac, the Philippines’ Tarlac-class landing platform dock BRP Davao Del Sur, RAAF F-35A Lightning II aircraft, an Australian Army M1A1 Abrams tank, USMC MV-22B Osprey, a parachute insertion and two Philippine Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicles.

Defence Attaché to the Philippines Colonel Paul Barta said Australia and the Philippines had a long history of defence cooperation.

”Mateship is a key part of Australian history and culture. In the Philippines, the equivalent term is bayanihan,” Colonel Barta said.

“Exercise Alon has provided the opportunity to deepen already strong ties and add complexity in training. It was tremendous to see ADF members working alongside their AFP and USMC counterparts in the Philippines, sharing experiences and learning from each other – a clear manifestation of mateship and bayanihan.

“A lot of time and effort has gone into the planning and execution of this exercise, and the demonstration of our nations training together in complex scenarios is a great outcome.”



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