PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan, Republic of the Philippines --
An unidentified van stops 50 feet from the gate as all of the passengers run away in various directions. The Philippine Air Force (PAF) and U.S. Marines grip their weapons tighter as they launch into action.
This improvised explosive device drill was conducted by members of the PAF’s Squadron 5711 and U.S. Marine Security Forces from Marine Wing Support Squadron 172 (MWSS-172) on April 13, 2012 at the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command Base, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Republic of the Philippines as a part of Exercise Balikatan 2012 (BK12).
Although this was a training exercise, members from both units conducted themselves as if this was a life or death situation and for a good reason. Military members from both nations rapidly intermingled and made a quick reaction force (QRF) in order to provide full security around the suspected vehicle-born IED (VBIED) and prepare for further investigation.
Once established, an explosive ordinance disposal team inspected the alleged VBIED and discarded it according to Philippine and U.S. security procedures. This drill gave Philippine and U.S. military members a chance to train together and learn skills from one another in order to strengthen their interoperability and capacity to respond to explosive device threats.
“This training makes me a better explosive ordinance disposal technician, thus giving me the ability to save lives,” said Sgt. Paul Mead, an EOD technician with MWSS-172, Marine Wing Support Group 17, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
One can never know when an attack may occur, so drills like this can be the key to survival.
“We’re training with the Filipino military, training to respond to vehicle-born IED attacks at a gate or entry control point,” said 1st Lt. Gary Arnold, an officer-in-charge at Military Police Company with MWSS-172.
This drill is just one of several bilateral field training activities both nations will participate in throughout the Republic of the Philippines during April 2012 as a part of BK12. BK12, in its 28th iteration, is an annual bilateral training exercise that builds joint training, contingency, humanitarian and disaster relief capabilities of Philippine and U.S. military members. BK12 is scheduled to end on April 27, 2012.