The US Marine Corps and their Filipino counterparts concluded a robust three-week military exercise, Marine Aviation Support Activity (MASA) 2024, last Friday, June 21.

The annual MASA military exercise served as a potent demonstration of the enduring alliance between the two nations, solidifying regional ties and sharpening military capabilities in the strategically vital Indo-Pacific region.

Boosting Skills Through Diverse Training

Philippine Navy chief Vice Admiral Toribio Adaci Jr. expressed his strong appreciation for MASA’s impact and lauded the exercise for significantly boosting the skills of Filipino Marines, particularly in aviation-supported operations.

“This year’s activities were extensive and varied, ranging from littoral live-fire exercises and forward arming and refueling operations to maritime key terrain security operations and tactical combat casualty care,” Adaci said, cited from a local newspaper.

MASA 2024 wasn’t just about honing combat skills. Held from June 3-21, the joint exercise encompassed a diverse range of scenarios, pushing both forces to their limits as well as exploring new aviation tactics.

Sharpening the Warfighting Edge

A key element was a two-part live-fire exercise (LLFX) simulating a territorial defense scenario. Marines from both nations engaged in exhilarating live-fire drills, perfecting their tactical maneuvers and marksmanship. They practiced complex forward arming and refueling procedures, ensuring seamless air support during operations.

Maritime security operations were also a key focus, with combined forces rehearsing the defense of strategic waterways and vital infrastructure.

Simultaneously, US F-35B jets conducted air strikes on separate targets coordinated by Philippine personnel.

Philippine unmanned aerial systems provided vital support throughout the LLFX, enhancing maritime awareness and ensuring safety. This integrated approach showcases the seamless cooperation between US and Philippine forces, bolstering their ability to respond to regional threats.

close air support training
US Marines and their Filipino counterpart during close air support training for MASA 24, June 20, 2024. (Image source: DVIDS)

Beyond Combat: Readiness for Humanitarian Crises

MASA 2024 also highlighted the importance of humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HA/DR).

The American and Philippine troops collaborated on simulated disaster relief scenarios, showcasing the alliance’s commitment to regional stability in times of crisis. This focus on HA/DR capabilities underscores the partnership’s multifaceted nature, extending beyond traditional warfare.

Showcasing Strength in Unity

The participation of forces from both the Philippines and the United States has been one of the most remarkable aspects of MASA 2024,” Vice Admiral Adaci said, as it “has enriched the training experience and showcased the strength and versatility of our collective capabilities.

While tensions persist in the South China Sea, Vice Admiral Adaci made it clear that MASA wasn’t intended to address those specific issues directly.

We are here because conducting MASA and similar exercises is a responsibility we have as a nation to maintain readiness and effectiveness of our military forces,” he emphasized. This focus on maintaining a state of preparedness aligns perfectly with the US strategy for a free and open Indo-Pacific.

The successful completion of MASA 2024 serves as a powerful symbol of the enduring US-Philippine partnership.

Through intensive training and collaboration, both nations have emerged with enhanced skills and a renewed sense of unity. This robust alliance stands as a cornerstone of regional security, ensuring both nations are prepared to face any challenge that may arise in the Indo-Pacific.

Disclaimer: SOFREP utilizes AI for image generation and article research. Occasionally, it’s like handing a chimpanzee the keys to your liquor cabinet. It’s not always perfect and if a mistake is made, we own up to it full stop. In a world where information comes at us in tidal waves, it is an important tool that helps us sift through the brass for live rounds.