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Monday, March 24, 2014

Pinoy and American Marines stage drills in Palawan as another US warship due to visit

By Jaime Sinapit
InterAksyon.com   
The online news portal of TV5
US and Philippine Marines conduct small arms training at Camp Tiniguiban, Puerto Princessa, Palawan. (US Marine Corps photo)
US and Philippine Marines conduct small arms training at Camp Tiniguiban, Puerto Princessa, Palawan. (US Marine Corps photo)
MANILA, Philippines — Filipino and American Marines have been conducting field and amphibious training in Palawan, with more exercises scheduled as another United States warship is set to visit Manila next week.
The drills and naval visits come amid negotiations between the Philippines and US on the increased rotational presence of American troops in the country and continuing tensions between Manila and Beijing over territory in the West Philippine Sea.
They also precede the visit next month of US President Barack Obama.
The US embassy in Manila said the USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), flagship of the 7th Fleet, will be docking at Manila South Harbor on March 18 “for a routine port call and a four-day goodwill visit.”
Vice Admiral Robert L. Thomas, 7th Fleet commander, will attend the welcoming ceremony for the warship, which is based in Yokosuka, Japan.
Last Sunday, the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Cowpens (CG63) also docked at Manila. The cruiser has a crew of 360, 20 of them Filipino-Americans.
US warships have been visiting the country more frequently since tensions with China picked up.
In Palawan, Philippine Marines and the US Marine Corps’ 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion began their first field training exercise on March 10 as part of the Philippine Marine Engagement Program, a regular bi-lateral training program.
This will be followed by another “subject matter expert exchange” with I Marine Expeditionary Force based in San Diego, California at Philippine Marine headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, to be followed by a maintenance management exchange in Manila and Palawan.

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