PartnershipsSoutheast Asia

Joint maritime security training reinforces Philippines’ defense concept


Maritime domain awareness is a key pillar of the Philippines’ shift toward external defense, known as the Comprehensive Archipelagic Defense Concept (CADC), as evidenced by the Naval Forces Western Mindanao’s (NFWM) recent joint security training in territorial waters off Zamboanga City, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

The five-day Joint Maritime Security Training Exercise (JMSTX), held in mid-April 2024, included collaboration among 22 units of the Philippine Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy, as well as the Coast Guard and National Police.

About 320 troops and maritime law enforcement personnel conducted scenarios to strengthen readiness and response to security challenges. The exercise held across the Sulu Archipelago included maritime patrols; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; counter-smuggling operations; and interagency communication to identify, report and interdict vessels suspected of carrying illicit materials for terrorist groups.

The exercise served as a platform for enhancing interoperability and advancing maritime defense capabilities in the Western Mindanao Command’s area of operation, Rear Adm. Donn Anthony Miraflor, NFWM commander, said in a statement.

Commodore Marco Antonio Gines, commander of Coast Guard District Southwestern Mindanao, which supported the exercise, said the initiative was vital to promoting collaboration and enhancing capabilities to ensure maritime safety and stability.

Miraflor said the JMSTX also advanced implementation of the nation’s defense goals.

Philippine Marines, Sailors and Coast Guard personnel coordinate operations during the Joint Maritime Security Training Exercise in Tawi-Tawi.

“The conduct of the exercise was very timely as NFWM needs to test its maritime domain awareness, a major requirement in the realization of the CADC being pursued by the Philippine government in protecting its territorial integrity and national interests as we shift from internal security operations to external defense operations,” he said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines adopted the CADC in March 2024 to defend the country’s territory, including its exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The move came as Chinese coast guard vessels continue to infringe on the Philippines’ EEZ, including ramming, blasting water cannons and conducting other dangerous maneuvers toward Philippine vessels delivering supplies to a military outpost at Second Thomas Shoal. In late April 2024, the Philippines said Chinese coast guard ships fired water cannons at two of its vessels at Scarborough Shoal, damaging one.

“In plain language, we are developing our capability to protect and secure our entire territory and EEZ in order to ensure that our people and all the generations of Filipinos to come shall freely reap and enjoy the bounties of the natural resources that are rightfully ours within our domain,” Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said in a statement.

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