Philippine Coastal Defense Milestones > US Marine Corps Flagship > News Display

Philippine Coastal Defense Milestones > US Marine Corps Flagship > News Display

Elements of the 1st and 3rd Marine Expeditionary Forces (MEF) completed the latest edition of Archipelagic Coastal Defense Continuum (ACDC) bilateral training with the full Philippine Marine Corps, including the Philippine Coastal Defense Regiment, May 31, 2024. The training took place across the diverse landscapes of Paredes in the north to the mountainous jungles of Balira in the southern Philippines.

Since the fighting of World War II, the U.S.-Philippines alliance has stood the test of time, reaffirming commitments through agreements such as the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951, the Visiting Forces Agreement of 1998, and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement signed in 2014. These agreements facilitated the introduction of ACDC, a series of enduring bilateral training opportunities between U.S. and Philippine militaries. This continuum supports the Philippine Marine Corps’ Archipelagic Coastal Defense Concept, unveiled in 2021 as part of the adoption of a new operational doctrine to strengthen the Philippine military’s ability to defend Philippine homeland in accordance with international law and ensure peace and stability within its maritime domain.

3rd MLR conducts Cobra coastal zone reconnaissance mission
Photo by Corporal Eric Huynh

U.S. Marines from 3rd Marine Coastal Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, conduct a pre-flight check of a Stalker VXE30 unmanned aerial system during Exercise Cobra: Coastal Zone Reconnaissance for Continuing Archipelago Coastal Defense, Cape Boheador, Philippines, May 20, 2024. The LZR Cobra is a bilateral command post exercise between U.S. Marines from 3rd Marine Regiment and Philippine Marines from Coastal Defense Regiment and 4th Marine Brigade, designed to improve interoperability, refine tactics, techniques and procedures, and support joint and combined force maritime situational awareness. ACDC is a series of bilateral exchanges and training opportunities between the U.S. Marine Corps and the Philippine Marine Corps aimed at supporting the Philippine Armed Forces’ modernization efforts while enhancing the Philippine Marine Corps’ coastal defense strategy. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Eric Huynh)

This series of activities includes maritime situational awareness training events, Subject Matter Expert Exchanges (SMEEs), Littoral Zone Reconnaissance Operations (LZRs), Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) defense training, joint command and control of the airspace through the Multifunctional Air Operations Center, and cultural and community engagement to deepen ties and celebrate our shared history with the U.S. and Filipino people. These events support the AFP’s ongoing modernization efforts and improve our ability to work together in any environment.

“I believe this will enhance our interoperability and it is very positive,” said Brig. Gen. Romeo T. Lacadio, ACDC exercise director and deputy commander of the Philippine Marine Corps. Lacadio added, “Considering the other factors we have enjoyed in the past, namely our friendship and strong alliance, this exercise is a great opportunity for us to build a stronger interoperability in terms of capabilities and possibilities. [ACDC] It will definitely be beneficial for us.”

Photo by Sgt. Shaina Jupiter

U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman Lorenzo Delos Reyes, a medic with Shock Trauma Section, 1st Medical Battalion, demonstrates how to apply a tourniquet during the Tactical Combat Casualty Care Specialist Exchange with the Philippine Marine Corps for Continuing Archipelago Coastal Defense with 1st Marine Brigade, Barilla, Philippines, May 14, 2024. TCCC teaches non-medical personnel the medical skills necessary to administer life-saving procedures in the absence of medics, improving the survival rate of those wounded in combat. ACDC is a series of bilateral exchanges and training opportunities between the U.S. Marine Corps and the Philippine Marine Corps, aimed at enhancing the Philippine Marine Corps’ coastal defense strategy while supporting the Philippine Armed Forces’ modernization efforts. Delos Reyes is from Manila, Philippines. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Staff Sgt. Shaina Jupiter)

This series of ACDC training events kicked off following Exercise Balikatan 24, when I MEF (Forward), commanded by Col. Stuart Glenn, assumed command and control of all Marine units in the Philippines. The Philippine Marine Corps welcomed the U.S. Marines, leading the 13th MEU CE, to Fort Bonifacio to begin this continuity of training and command and control. Through daily meetings, working groups, and cooperative exchanges, the 13th MEU coordinated and oversaw the training of various units, including the 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment, Marine Air Wing Support Squadron 371 (MWSS), Marine Air Control Group 38, 3rd Marine Air Wing at Clark Air Base and Fort Bonifacio, 1st Air and Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO), I MEU Intelligence Group, 15th MEU on Palawan, and 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment (V 1/7), 1st Marine Division on Mindanao.

“ACDC is designed as a bilateral exercise where the U.S. Marine Corps, specifically the I MEF, and the Philippine Marine Corps work with each other and build coastal defense capacity and capability from both a Philippine and U.S. perspective. With the Philippine Marines, we work person-to-person, unit-to-unit, and at all echelons to work better together every day.” Colonel Stuart Glenn, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), United States Marine Corps

In the vibrant jungles of Mindanao, 1/7 U.S. Marines and Philippine Marines from 1st Marine Brigade forged new levels of interoperability through refined infantry tactics, simulated close-quarters combat, marksmanship training, and jungle and mountain warfare training. The Philippine Marines imparted centuries of knowledge on how to survive and operate in a jungle environment to their U.S. Marines. In between tactical training events, Marines shared traditional “boodle fights” with Philippine Marines and came together for an evening of Filipino food, camaraderie, and friendship. Beyond sharing these meals, Marines engaged with the local community by visiting places like Abu Bakar Elementary School to distribute school supplies, serve meals, and serve the Filipino people alongside the Philippine Marines.

15th MEU, 3rd Marine Battalion, Philippines lead combined convoy in Palawan
Photo by Corporal Joseph Helms

A U.S. Marine Corps Joint Light Tactical Vehicle from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit crosses a bridge during a joint convoy and mobile defense exercise with Philippine Marines from the 3rd Marine Brigade, Palawan, Philippines, May 15, 2024. ACDC is a series of bilateral exchanges and training opportunities between the U.S. Marine Corps and the Philippine Marine Corps aimed at enhancing the Philippine Marine Corps’ coastal defense strategy and supporting the Philippine Armed Forces’ modernization efforts. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joseph Helms)

In the Northwest, the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed the dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry for training and facilitating joint amphibious operations with the 3rd Marine Brigade. Working together, they successfully incorporated reconnaissance, infantry, light armored patrols, and various SMEEs into a joint amphibious landing at Long Beach, Palawan, followed by a simulated Philippine-American urban military operation in Puerto Princesa. Here they shared valuable lessons learned on ship-to-shore operations and improved their joint capabilities to secure a beachhead for future maritime and island defense operations. Also in Palawan, US Marines from the 1st Anglico engaged in small unmanned aerial reconnaissance system (sUAS) SMEE with PMCs to enhance surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities in Philippine coastal waters and improve early warning and detection of hostile activity within Philippine territory.

“We need to get serious about the requirements of the maritime domain,” Lacadio said. “We need to provide a holistic approach in terms of the defense of the occupiers of this island nation. So I would say that the importance of ACDC is very timely and very relevant to the demands of the times. So I’m happy that we’re doing ACDC and we should continue to do this.”

Relocating north to Fort Bonifacio and Manila, the 13th MEU CEs strengthened their ability to conduct joint operations by overseeing dispersed Philippine and U.S. military activities with PMC headquarters personnel. This coordination further enhanced interoperability of procedures between commands and improved joint capabilities for communication, decision-making, and action direction within the Philippines, allowing for the joint and synchronized use of forces and capabilities. Through ongoing Intelligence, Radio and Communications Systems SMEEs, and Senior NCO Symposiums, the 13th MEU CEs collaborated with their Philippine Marine Corps counterparts and fostered stronger relationships for increasingly dynamic military operations. Concurrently, U.S. Marines, Philippine Marines, and Philippine National Police officers from MWSS-371 conducted EOD and CBRN SMEEs through joint classroom instruction and hands-on application at Fort Bonifacio’s football field.

ACDC: EOD Underwater Unexploded Ordnance Destruction
Photo by Sgt. Dana Beasley

Philippine Marine Corps, Philippine Navy Special Operations Command and U.S. Marine Corps explosive ordnance disposal technicians transport a “Floating Freddy” toward a C-4 explosive during an underwater unexploded ordnance disposal operation off Caballo Island, Philippines, May 14, 2024, during Archipelagic Coastal Defense Continuation Exercise (ACDC). ACDC is a series of bilateral exchanges and training opportunities between the U.S. Marine Corps and the Philippine Marine Corps, aimed at enhancing the Philippine Marine Corps’ coastal defense strategy and supporting the Philippine Armed Forces’ modernization efforts. The event marked the first time in U.S. Marine Corps EOD history that live ammunition diving and underwater ordnance destruction training was conducted outside the continental U.S.

“that [ACDC] “This agreement allows us to send Marines here and, as we like to say, work side-by-side,” Glenn said. “The goal for the Philippines and the United States is a free and prosperous Indo-Pacific region, and we are here to support that.”

Near an active runway at Clark Air Base, Luzon, U.S. Marines from MWSS-371 and Philippine Marines from Combat Engineer Battalion applied constructive and destructive engineering capabilities in a simulated battlespace of difficult terrain. The classroom and hands-on application of mobility, survivability, general engineering and engineer reconnaissance enhanced the combined U.S. and Philippine capabilities to move through the battlespace, protect forces and create friction and confusion for adversaries in a potential conflict.

During simultaneous exercises at Naval Base Camilo Osias, Paredes, Subic Bay, the U.S. Marine Corps’ 3rd Marine Regiment and the Philippine Marine Corps’ 4th Marine Brigade and 10th Battalion Landing Team worked together in Exercise Littoral Reconnaissance Cobra, a continuous series of infantry, reconnaissance, cultural and community engagement events. LZR Cobra was a bilateral command post exercise between the U.S. and Philippine Marine Corps designed to leverage sUAS capabilities to enhance interoperability, refine tactics, techniques and procedures, and support joint and joint force maritime situational awareness.

Ongoing training through exercises such as Balikatan, Marine Air Support Activity, SAMA SAMA, Kamandag, and now ACDC, allows U.S. and Philippine militaries to work together and operate more frequently and closely than ever before. This consistent training allows both militaries to refine and sustain the progress they have made in previous iterations. With the enduring permission and support of the Philippine government and people, the U.S. Marine Corps seeks to advance our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region and strengthen our longstanding alliance and partnership with our partner nation.

Lacadio ended his remarks by saying: “I believe this [ACDC] “There are many opportunities that will come our way and we will be winners, doing our part and contributing to our shared goals in the Indo-Pacific region.”

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