PAMPANGA, Republic of the Philippines - Armed Forces of the Philippines members and U.S. Marines conducted bilateral aircraft rescue and firefighting training during Amphibious Landing Exercise 2014 Sept. 26 at Clark Air Field, Pampanga, Republic of the Philippines.
PHIBLEX 14 is an annual, bilateral training exercise focused on enhancing security and stability within the region.
The day of training, which involved U.S. Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 172, Marine Wing Support Group 17, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, increased the already high level of interoperability between Philippine and U.S. forces.
“Today we are going to be conducting some bilateral training with our Filipino counterparts involving the F/A-18 Hornet,” said Sgt. Devon McIntyre, the aircraft rescue and firefighting training non-commissioned officer-in-charge with MWSS-172.
The day of training started out with a familiarization class consisting of emergency procedures on how to extract a pilot or shut a plane down, according to McIntyre.
“We will be covering all the major areas of emergencies, so they will understand the complexity of this should it really happen,” said McIntyre.
“The whole point of today is to ensure that our Filipino counterparts fully understand the rescue procedures that we have,” said Cpl. Heriberto Alonso, an aircraft rescue firefighter with the unit. “Therefore, if there is an emergency situation, we can effectively help each other to overcome the problem in order for no miscommunication to take place along the way.”
Upon completion of the classes, the participants conducted a pilot extraction drill, consisting of a mock pilot being evacuated from an F/A-18. The members of both forces evacuated the pilot and conducted a mental evaluation, creating a realistic training experience.
“Upon extraction, we want to test the pilot’s mental psyche in order to ensure he has no serious head trauma caused by the mishap,” said McIntyre. “The entire assessment process could take up to 30 minutes.”
The day of training left the participants from both nations confident in the training they received, according to Philippine Air Force Airman 2nd Class Kennard I. Gomez, an air rescue firefighter with the 600th Air Base Wing.
“This training is highly beneficial for the Philippine forces and gives us a huge advantage should a mishap take place,” said Gomez. “I feel that both of our countries can benefit from what we are doing here.”
Working cooperatively and being interoperable with the Armed Forces of the Philippines is highly important, according to McIntyre.
“I feel that because of this training, the Philippine forces will be fully confident and capable of carrying out the extraction of a pilot who is in an emergency situation,” said McIntyre. “It is important for us to spread the knowledge we have as well as to pick up new things from them as well. We are always very happy to train with the Armed Forces of the Philippines.”