From DVIDS (Oct 2): Philippine, US Recon Marines learn to survive in the jungle during PHIBLEX 2015
Marines with III Marine Expeditionary Force are tasked to execute operations in the mountainous jungle vegetation of the Philippine island region of Luzon. Marines in the jungle can find themselves facing more adversaries than just the enemy– heat, weather and lack of food or water can be the deciding factor between living and dying.
Marines with 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III MEF, went through the Philippine Marine Corps’ Force Reconnaissance Jungle Environment Survival Training from Sept. 29-30, 2015, to learn how to increase their survivability in the jungle as part of Amphibious Landing Exercise 2015. The Philippine Marines taught U.S. Marines how to use their surrounding environment to catch food, find water and build shelter to survive.
This jungle survival training is a key part of PHIBLEX 2015, which is an annual, bilateral training exercise conducted by U.S. Marine and Navy Forces with the Armed Forces of the Philippines in order to strengthen our interoperability and working relationships across a wide range of military operations — from disaster relief, to complex expeditionary operations.
“There are three essential elements of jungle survival; shelter, food and water,” said Philippine Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Bimbo Busico, a jungle survival instructor assigned to Headquarters and Training Company, Marine Special Operations Group.
Philippine Marines with 64th Force Reconnaissance Company, Marine Special Operations Group, trained the U.S. Marines on the basics of jungle survival, giving them hands on learning experience that is important to their success in their current area of operations.
“Since our area of responsibility is mostly jungle, we have to operate in this environment,” said U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Rafael De Hoyas, a reconnaissance man with 3rd Recon Bn. “They taught us all the skills they know- how to cook, what to eat and all the knowledge that gives us a better understanding of the area of operations we work in.”
According to Busico, Filipinos in the military who live and work in the jungle and are jungle-based operators know how to live and survive in that environment.
The Marines learned how to use bamboo to their advantage by cooking food, making fire and setting up traps and snares.
“I heard that bamboo was resourceful before coming here, but the Philippine Marines really showed us how useful it can be,” said U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maksimilian Pavloskiy, a reconnaissance man with 3rd Recon Bn. “They showed us how to make everything with it from using it as utensils, to building a fire, to cooking rice, to even setting traps with it.”
While training with the Philippine Marines, the U.S. Marines were able to effectively learn and apply jungle survival skills that will benefit them in future operations.
“This training helps our survivability in the jungle,” said Pavloskiy, who is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “Working with the (Philippine Marines) has given us an introduction on how to use the jungle to our advantage.”
This is through the mechanism of the Ad Hoc Joint Action (AHJAG) whose main task is “to interdict and isolate kidnap-for-ransom groups and other criminal gangs operating in or near MILF communities”. This partnership has yielded so many success stories, including the furlough of high Church personalities like Father Michael Sinnott, Father Luciano Benedetti, Father Giancarlo Bossi, and Father Giuseppe Pierantoni.
In Central Mindanao, kidnapping is deeply neutralized, but in Western Mindanao especially in the Zamboanga Peninsula, Basilan, and Sulu, it is rampant and is virtually becoming a thriving “industry”. The latest abduction involved two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipina in a resort hotel on Samal Island in Davao City on September 21. They were brought to Indanan, Sulu by Al-Habsi Misaya or Al-Bahil, an alleged Abu Sayyaf commander.
But kidnapping is not only happening in Mindanao. In Metropolitan Manila, the number of kidnapping cases is very much higher and is almost a daily occurrence, but mostly unheralded. The most distinctive difference is that here the kidnappers are not so-called Muslims or Moros. This is the reason that some (or few) media reporters don’t care much about them.
Kidnapping is indeed a menace to society. It has downgraded the category of human being into that of a simple commodity. It is like the slave-trading of the olden days. Therefore, it has to be opposed and defeated at all costs.
But for the MILF to do it alone, as one Filipino lawmaker suggested, is like asking for the moon to fall. It is an unfair proposition. First, kidnapping is a syndicate involving practically every sector of society. Sometimes, even the police, military, and elements of so-called rebel groups are linked to it.
Second, we don’t think the government can agree to that kind of arrangement where the MILF does it openly. Perhaps, if the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is enacted into law and the Bangsamoro Police is established, members thereof from the MILF can participate, because they have the legal personality already.
And third, we never claim that we have the strength and clout to do so effectively alone. Kidnappers are proved to be very tough group to deal with, because the only language they know or profess is the language of money. We are not aware if there are exceptions to this rule.
Of course, the MILF cares for the safety of the kidnapped victims. This is paramount. Therefore, helping them in any way fitted is not only doing service to humanity but it is a moral responsibility that God rewards in the day hereafter.
Ordinarily, however, no one will ever venture to help voluntarily, because it is a lose-lose engagement. Whether successful or not, those helping are prone to be suspected either as friends of the kidnappers or are eying for a portion of the ransom money.
However, after signing the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the AHJAG in 2002, the MILF has defied all odds and dangers and worked with the government in curbing kidnapping in Mindanao. Not doing its share of the responsibility is not an option for the MILF.