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thedrifter
09-16-03, 05:22 AM
Marines Set For Philippines Exercise
Associated Press
September 15, 2003


SUBIC, Philippines - About 1,500 U.S. Marines arrived aboard three ships at a former American naval base Sunday for a weeklong exercise to bolster regional security, officials said.

Their arrival at Subic Bay, northwest of Manila, is part of a series of planned bilateral military drills and is not connected with President Bush's visit next month, the officials said.

"This is a regular exercise in preparation for any future contingency," Philippine navy Cdr. Geronimo Malabanan said.

The United States has been working closely with the 120,000-strong Philippine military, which has been battling Muslim separatists and communist rebels for three decades.

Last year, a U.S.-backed military offensive drove the Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim extremist group notorious for beheadings and kidnappings, from their main jungle bases.

On Sunday, throngs of Filipinos, including relatives of some American soldiers with Philippine descent, stood from a distance on the pier, snapping photographs of the U.S. ships.

Marine 2nd Lt. Tryiokasus Brown said the Sept. 14-21 exercise is a follow-up for a similar training maneuver earlier this year and shows Washington's resolve to help boost regional security.

More than two dozen air-conditioned buses were to ferry the Americans to a Philippine army special forces base farther north of Subic and a Philippine marine base in Ternate town in Cavite province south of Manila, Malabanan said.

The Marines, from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit based in Okinawa, Japan, will take part in joint exercises that will include live-fire training with small arms and artillery, air support operations involving troop movements and aerial firing, and ship-to-shore landings.

Meanwhile, Bush is to make an eight-hour stop in Manila on Oct. 18 en route to the APEC summit in Thailand, officials said.

He will hold talks with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, one of Bush's closest allies in Asia. The issues to be discussed include anti-terrorism; political and economic cooperation; and Washington's pledge to help in planned peace talks between Manila and Muslim separatist guerrillas in the southern Philippines.

Sempers,

Roger
:marine: