Photo Information

U.S. Marines with 3rd Littoral Combat Team, 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, conduct a dry-fire rehearsal in preparation for a counter landing live-fire exercise at La Paz Sand Dunes, Ilocos Norte, Philippines, May 4, 2024. Balikatan 24 is an annual exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the U.S. military designed to strengthen bilateral interoperability, capabilities, trust, and cooperation built over decades of shared experiences. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Eric Huynh)

Photo by Cpl. Eric Huynh

3rd LCT Demonstrates Interoperability During Largest Combined-Joint Live Fire Range of Balikatan 24

13 May 2024 | 1st Lt. Anne Pentaleri 3rd Marine Division

U.S. Marines with 3rd Littoral Combat Team, 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, and Philippine Marines with Marine Battalion Landing Team 8 joined forces to plan and conduct the largest combined and joint live fire range of Balikatan 24 on May 6, 2024. The Marines were supported by U.S. Army and Philippine Marine Corps and Army artillery, which added long-range fires to the counter-landing scenario.

A rifle company of U.S. Marines with 3rd LCT left Paredes Airfield for the La Paz Sand Dunes on April 29 to begin prepping the training area for one of the four Combined Joint All-Domain Operations events executed during the 39th iteration of Balikatan. La Paz was deliberately chosen as the training site that would host the counter-landing live fire range for its terrain profile and proximity to strategic waterways. Featuring high grounds with a line of sight extending well into the West Philippine Sea, as well as low grounds with sufficient overhead coverage to house and obscure heavy and medium machine guns from view, the La Paz Sand Dunes presented 3rd LCT and MBLT-8 planners with the ideal challenge – to create a training scenario in which U.S. and Philippine forces worked together in order to counter a simulated enemy attack on key maritime terrain.

At exactly 0800 on May 6, 2024, the range at La Paz went hot. U.S. Soldiers began by opening up on targets floating off the coast with 155mm artillery, while Philippine Marines suppressed with 105mm artillery. As the mock enemy approached from the sea, Philippine Army artillery added their ammunition to the symphony of high explosive rounds impacting on targets. 30 minutes into the drill, the U.S. Marines fired their first shots. The rounds came from two FGM-148 Javelins fired in perfect unison. Before the anti-tank missiles had even reached their targets, 3rd LCT’s heavy machine gunners were already covering the Javelin gunners’ egress with suppression from .50 Caliber machine guns.

 “This range built on both forces’ understanding of amphibious and littoral operations, improving our collective capacity as warfighters.” U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Mark Edgar, the operations officer with 3rd LCT


As the scenario progressed and the mock enemy crossed the trigger line defined by where the ocean meets the beach, both U.S. and Philippine Marines engaged their M240B medium machine guns and M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles. The gun fight lasted approximately 45 minutes, at the conclusion of which a Multi-Purpose Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapon System – a reloadable, recoilless rocket system organic to 3rd LCT – neutralized the remaining enemy threat.

“This range built on both forces’ understanding of amphibious and littoral operations, improving our collective capacity as warfighters,” said U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Mark Edgar, the operations officer with 3rd LCT. “We didn’t execute an event to this scale and complexity last year. The success of all forces involved speaks volumes to the bilateral training built over years of shared experiences during Balikatan.”

Approximately 150 U.S. and Philippine Marines and Soldiers participated in the counter-landing live fire range. Although the purpose of the counter-landing was to stress and test the ability of U.S. and Philippine Marines to integrate and implement the platoon and company-level tactics developed over the course of Balikatan 24, the event carried a deeper meaning for those observing. As the U.S. and Philippines’ partnership continues to grow, the local and regional security environments will continue to see increased stability.


“3rd Littoral Combat Team came to the Philippines to train alongside our Philippine Marine counterparts in a variety of missions associated with the Archipelagic Coastal Defense Concept. The successful execution of these training exercises highlights the exceptional capability we have to preserve Philippine territorial integrity when working alongside one another.” U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Mark Lenzi, Commanding Officer, 3rd LCT


Balikatan is an annual exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the U.S. military designed to strengthen bilateral interoperability, capabilities, trust, and cooperation built over decades of shared experiences.