Combined forces from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the United States Armed Forces (USAF) recently engaged in a simulated Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS) drill in an effort to strengthen their relationship in increasing marine boarding actions and tactics.

The troops who joined the USAF forces were from the 3rd Marine Brigade under the Western Command (WESCOM), as well as the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and the 2nd Special Operations Unit of the PNP Maritime Group, on Friday, April 21, at the Joint Maritime Law Enforcement Training Center in Barangay Magarwak, Sta. Lourdes, Puerto Princesa City.

The 10-day training, which started on April 12 and is part of the 38th iteration of Balikatan, was facilitated by the Marine Special Operations Command (MSOC) of the US Marine Corps and featured an activity conducted on board M/V Palawan Coast at the port area in Barangay Liwanag.

The VBSS exercise is a crucial skill set for military personnel, especially those involved in maritime operations, where the ability of soldiers to quickly and effectively board and search a vessel are honed, allowing them to respond to deter illegal activities at sea and maintain security in the maritime environment.

The training event seeks to improve the joint troops’ capabilities in performing VBSS operations, which are frequently carried out in difficult conditions. The simulation covers scenarios such as the boarding of vessels suspected of engaging in illicit activities.

The VBSS training was just one of many opportunities provided during Balikatan Exercise 30-23 to enhance the capabilities and maintain readiness of the Philippines and the US forces. The joint exercise serves as a testament to the strong partnership between the two countries in ensuring the security and stability of the region.