Navy, Air Force hold joint drills in Western Mindanao

By Roel Pareño

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — The Navy and Air Force have been staging joint exercises of anti-terrorism and territorial defense operations in response to continued fighting in Marawi City.
R.Adm. Rene Medina, Naval Forces Western Mindanao commander, said his unit partnered with the Tactical Operations Wing of the Air Force 3rd Air Division in the ongoing exercise that started Monday.
Medina said the exercise — dubbed Interoperability Exercise ‘Ayudahan’ 2017 — is the first between the two units and is meant to enhance their ability to meet security threats in the southern Philippines.
“The interoperability exercise aims to develop interoperability and operational capabilities of NFWM-TOC units in Western Mindanao Area of Operations and enhance the overall coordination and responsiveness in the conduct of joint maritime operations in support to Internal Security Operations and Territorial Defense Operations,” Medina said.
Navy units participating in the exercise are Naval Task Force 61, Naval Special Operations Unit 6, Naval Air Unit-Western Mindanao, Naval Intelligence and Security Group-Western Mindanao and the Maritime Situational Awareness Center-Western Mindanao.
The Air Force is represented by the 15th Strike Wing, 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing, 304th Air Intelligence and Security Squadron, 722nd Special Operations Squadron and the 505th Search and Rescue Group.
“The continuous collaboration of the two forces is evidence of a strong commitment to serve and perform their respective duties for the pursuit of lasting peace, order and development in Western Mindanao,” Medina added.

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