Philippines, Australia to Hold Joint Military Exercises
An Australian and Philippine soldier watch on during Balikatan 2014.

Philippines, Australia to Hold Joint Military Exercises

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The Australian and the Philippine armies are preparing for twin joint military exercises later this year as part of their ongoing defense cooperation, Philippine military sources said Sunday.

Australia and the Philippines have a bilateral defense relationship dating back to a 1995 memorandum of understanding on defense cooperation between the two sides. Ties have only deepened over the past few years. In 2013, the two countries agreed at the 12th meeting of their Joint Defense Cooperation Committee to add an equivalent army-to-army training activity called “Dusk Caracha” to be held in Australia to complement “Dawn Caracha” conducted in the Philippines.

On Sunday, the Philippine Army announced details regarding those two joint annual military exercises to be held later this year with Australia.

The first, Exercise “Dusk Caracha” is a combined training activity of the Special Operations Commands (SOCOM) of the two countries and will be conducted from September 15 to 26 in Perth, Australia.

According to Philippine Army spokesman Col. Benjamin Hao, this year the Philippine Army will send 25 personnel from the Light Reaction Regiment (LRR) to participate in the exercise which focuses on counterterrorism. The exercise will also reportedly include closed-quarter battle training, sniper skills development training, and unit collective training.

The second, Exercise “Dawn Caracha” will involve the Special Air Service Regiment as well as SOCOM. It will be held in Fort Magsaysay, Neuva Ecija, in the Philippines and will run from October 19 to 30.

This year, Hao said the exercise will involve 102 participants from the Philippine Army and 15 soldiers from the Australian Army. The objective of the exercise is to enhance the interoperability of the Special Forces units of both nations.

Aside from these two exercises, the two counties have also participated in other drills as well, with Australia’s involvement in the U.S.-Philippine Balikatan exercises and Philippine participation in Kakadu and Pitchblack exercises being recent examples (See: “US, Philippines to Hold Expanded War Games”). Australia is also one of only two countries which the Philippines has an existing Status of Visiting Forces Agreement with, the other being its ally the United States. As I reported previously, Manila has also signaled its intent to negotiate a similar pact with Japan (See: “Japan, Philippines Seeking New Pact on Military Bases”).

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