Philippines, Russian marines conduct joint exercises

By Philippine Star / Jaime Laude

The Filipinos placed second as the Russians overwhelmed them in all aspects of the three-league urban setting military obstacle races at Russia’s 155th Marine Brigade facility outside the city. Photo by Jaime Laude

VLADIVOSTOK – The Philippine Marine contingent that used to train with their US counterparts squared off for the first time with Russian troops in joint exercises held inside the sprawling Marine training base here yesterday.

The Filipinos placed second as the Russians overwhelmed them in all aspects of the three-league urban setting military obstacle races at Russia’s 155th Marine Brigade facility outside the city.

The Filipino troops took their defeat with good humor, with one soldier even gladly declaring that they finished second in the competition.

“We are happy because we placed first runner-up in the game,” he said.

Lt. Col. Antonio Indab Jr., head of the Marine contingent, said the obstacle race may have looked competitive, but it was really a friendly.

“We did not come here really to compete. We are here to win friends and develop camaraderie,” Indab said.

Naval Task Force (NTF) 87 commander Capt. Florante Gagua said the joint drill is an added learning experience for the Philippine Marines who, back home, are trained to fight in a jungle setting.

Several Filipino Navy and Marine officers also said the Russian training facility was designed for urban warfare.

The training facility could also be replicated in the Philippines to better prepare Filipino soldiers to fight in Marawi City-like warfare.

After displaying their physical prowess, the Russian marines also conducted an amphibious assault exercise to showcase their sea and land capabilities.

In a naval formation, three Russian marine amphibious landing tanks displayed their firepower prior to a beach head landing.

From the view deck of the training facility, separate teams of Russian snipers were likewise simultaneously blasting their targets located in a grassy area located near a cliff, almost a kilometer away.

Their colleagues also demonstrated their close quarter hand-to-hand fighting skills.

While this was happening, the amphibious tanks that landed along the shoreline rolled inside the training facility, still firing blank machine gun cartridges.

A seven-man Marine team from each tank took position in running trenches and blasted the “enemy” located across the hill with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and machine gun fire.

The Filipinos were later allowed to participate in the exercise but their participation was limited to firing machine guns.

“They (Russians) don’t want us to see, much more lay our hands on their sniper rifles and their RPGs. They’re very security conscious,” said a member of the NTF 87.

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