PH, Australian troops break from bilateral drills to honor WW1 heroes

Published April 25, 2022, 4:55 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Australian Defense Force (ADF) commemorated Monday, April 25, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) Day in honor of the soldiers and other heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice during the World War I.

Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Special Forces Regiment (Airborne) and Australian Defense Force commemorate the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) Day at Fort Magsaysay in Palayan, Nueva Ecija on April 25, 2022. (Courtesy of AFP – SFR (A))

Members of the AFP’s Special Forces Regiment (SFR) Airborne offered the paratrooper’s grounds for the ceremony and hosted the ADF’s Joint Australian Training Team – Philippines (JATT-P) who are currently in the country for the KASANGGA 22-1, the first Australian-Philippines bilateral exercise. The ceremonies started around 4:30 a.m. at Fort Magsaysay in Palayan, Nueva Ecija.

“We are honored to join them in this dawn service. For the past few days, our men have learned a lot – from tactical procedures to profound matters rooted in cultural diversity. Now, we know that we have similar sentiments when it comes to love of country. Similar to us, they have a high regard for the sacrifices made by their forebears, all in the cause of liberty and peace,” said Col. Eros James Uri, SFR (A) Chief of Staff.

The ANZAC Day remembers the allied expedition set off to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey where thousands of Australian soldiers had died in 1915, according to the government-run Australian War Memorial website.

At present, the commemoration of the ANZAC Day has been broadened to include those who lost their lives in the Second World War and other peacekeeping operations where Australia was involved.

After the dawn service which consisted of prayers, requiem, laying of wreaths, and “The Last Post” bugle call, the Filipino and Australian soldiers bonded over biscuits and the traditional “gunfire” drink which involves a cup of coffee or tea with a dash of rum intended to provide extra courage to soldiers during the First World War.

Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Special Forces Regiment (Airborne) and Australian Defense Force commemorate the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) Day at Fort Magsaysay in Palayan, Nueva Ecija on April 25, 2022. (Courtesy of AFP – SFR (A))

Uri said that around 50 Australian officers and non-commissioned officers are in the Philippines for the KASANGGA-22-1.

They were training with Filipino soldiers to share their expertise in infantry, combat engineering, and combat medic training.

Meanwhile, the Filipino soldiers came from various offices and units under the Special Forces and were imparting their knowledge in confronting internal security challenges like the Battle of Marawi in 2017.

“A lot of my soldiers are young privates and this kind of opportunity will surely have a tremendous impact on building their character. On the macro level, bilateral exercise will further strengthen the already strong relationship between our countries,” said Maj. Cane Mifsud, commander of the JATT-P.

“This current rotation of JATT-P is the first major opportunity ADF and AFP have had to conduct bilateral training after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19,” he added.

The KASANGGA, which means partners to reach a common goal, is an Australian-Philippine bilateral exercise that was conceptualized and realized through the initiative of the Philippine Special Forces and the Australian Embassy.

 
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