July 7, 2023
MANILA, Philippines — The biggest ever military drills between the marine corps of the Philippines and the United States are not meant to “provoke” any other country, an official clarified on Thursday.
The two-week exercise of the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) and United States Marine Corps (USMC) dubbed Marine Aviation Support Activity (Masa) officially began on Thursday.
A total of 2,711 personnel and 43 air assets from both countries will be utilized in the exercises to be held in military bases located in Cagayan, Tarlac, Palawan, Zambales, and Cebu until July 21.
Despite having the biggest number of participants in the exercise’s history, PMC Deputy Commandant Brigadier General Jimmy Larida clarified that these exercises are only meant to improve interoperability and not to gear up for a “specific” conflict.
“I would just like to make it clear that Masa 2023 is not designed to directly prepare for a specific conflict, Masa 23 is just designed for interoperability between the Philippine Marine Corps and the United States Marine Corps,” Larida told reporters in an ambush interview after the Masa’s launch in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City.
“Masa 23 is purely to increase the skills of our personnel in the context of coastal defense and counterlanding, it’s not a sign to provoke and designed against a particular conflict in any area,” he added.
To recall, this year’s Balikatan exercises between the US and the Philippines is also the biggest in its history with some 17,500 combined troops from the both countries.