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U.S. Forces are back in the Philippines

Jan. 29, 2003

By Master Sgt Michael Farris
353rd Special Operations Group, Public Affairs

CLARK AIR BASE, Republic of the Philippines - Nearly 400 U.S. soldiers and airmen of Special Operations Command, Pacific have assembled here to conduct a month-long joint combined exchange training-program.

Balance Piston 03-05 is geared toward improving the interoperability of the two nations' armed forces and enhancing tactical and operational proficiency.

According to Maj. Robert Lee, U.S. Joint Mission Commander, the training also allows the American contingent to experience a culturally and geographically diverse region.

"The training here is a two-way street," he said. "The U.S. side is helping the AFP carry out a jumpmaster course. And they have volumes to teach us about survival skills in the local jungles. Every training session goes both ways. Each side benefits."

Joint combined exchange training is common among Pacific-based Special Operations units. The Philippines is one of about 25 countries SOCPAC does JCETs with. They are routine, recurrent training events that contribute to regional stability and PACOM's military engagement program.

Three major U.S. units participating in the training are the 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, Torii Station, Okinawa Japan; the 353rd Special Operations Group, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan; and E Co., Special Operations Aviation Regiment, Taegu Air Base, Korea. (PACAFNS)

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