GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/29 June) – Two US Navy ships are arriving in Makar port here on Sunday (July 1) for joint naval maneuver exercises with the Philippine Navy, according to Commodore Philip Cacayan, commanding general of the Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao.
Cacayan said a frigate of the US Navy will join the exercises as well as several seacraft-borne helicopters in what is shaping as the biggest of its kind to be held in Sarangani Bay.
These US naval ships are in Manila and are on their way to General Santos City. Three Philippine Navy ships will join the exercises as well as several air assets of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Hundreds of US naval and coast guard troops, including US Army Special Forces will be involved in the maneuvers billed as “Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 12.”
The Philippine Navy identified the US ships as USNS Vandergrift, USNS Safeguard and mobile salvage unit USCG Waesche of the US Coast Guard.
The exercise includes in-port training, riverine operations, dive and salvage activities. While here, the American troops will conduct civic military operations and will hold rock concerts in Sarangani and General Santos.
It will be the first time US Naval forces will hold their exercises in this part of Mindanao.
The exercises will run from July 2 to 10.
Philippine Navy officials said CARAT 2012 is different from the Balikatan exercises as these will not involve war game maneuvers.
Militants here have denounced the joint US and Philippine exercise warning that increased US presence could lead to eventual establishment of permanent bases in the country.
Cacayan arrived here Wednesday to grace the funshot competition of members of the local media.
He was accompanied by Police Regional Office director Chief Supt. Alex Paul Monteagudo. They were joined by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brandon Glazer whose unit provided the ammunition for the media funshot.
Glazer and his team have been stationed in the headquarters of the 6th Infantry Division in Awang, Maguindanao providing training and technical support to the Philippine military as part of the Visiting Forces Agreement. (Edwin G. Espejo/MindaNews)