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PH, US troops get ready for storms in drill

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CASIGURAN, Aurora – Philippine and United States troops yesterday conducted Civilian Military Activities from the Sea in preparation for a powerful typhoon, similar to “Yolanda,” that could hit the province and other areas in Luzon.

Major Celeste Frank Sayson, Balikatan 2017 spokesman for the Philippines, said the CMA-S is part of the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations for this year’s “Balikatan” (shoulder-to-shoulder) military exercises.

Aside from air and sea assets from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, US air and sea assets were also utilized in the CMAS.

The Philippines used the Philippine Navy’s strategic sea lift vessel BRP Tarlac, two UH-ID Huey transport helicopters, a landing craft utility, and a rigid-hulled inflatable boat.

US air and naval assets used in the exercise were a Sacagawee, a Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, a Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk, and a Boeing CH-47 Chinook.

According to Sayson, the activity aims to provide support to the communities devastated by typhoons through the conduct of health education and first responder Bilateral Subject Matter Exchange Events in order to increase readiness of the Armed Forces, local government units, people, and other participating government agencies and civil society volunteers.

“Balikatan 33-17 posesses a high-impact training to synchronize government actions during natural calamities,” he said.

Sayson said the Northern Luzon Command’s mission in the exercise area is to conduct bilateral health engagements and HADR missions from the sea in the aftermath of a typhoon.

More than 500 Filipino and US troops participated in the HADR activities yesterday.

“We aim to increase our capabilities and effective incident management in typhoon prone areas in Northern Luzon,” Sayson added.

Sayson said extensive planning and months of intensified engagements were done through collaborations with critical stakeholders, including the local authorities and agencies involved in the execution of CMAS.

“These coordinative actions helped to enhance the linkage of the AFP to civil authorities and agencies in times of calamties,” he said. (Francis T. Wakefield)