Army holds live fire exercise in Tarlac

CATEX 'Katihan" Battle Phase 2 kicks off

CATEX Katihan.jpg
Philippine Army personnel conduct a live fire exercise using the Autonomous Truck Mounted Howitzer System (ATMOS) 1155 self-propelled guns and M119 105mm Howitzer during the Combined Armes Training Exercise (Catex) "Katihan" Battle Period 2 at Col. Ernesto Rabina Air Base in Capas, Tarlac on March 15, 2024. (Photo by Noel Pabalate / MANILA BULLETIN)

The Philippine Army showcased its territorial defense capabilities during the conduct of the Combined Arms Training Exercise (CATEX) "Katihan" Battle Period 2 at Col. Ernesto Rabina Air Base in Capas, Tarlac on Friday, March 15.

Col. Louie Dema-ala, Army spokesperson, said the Battle Period 2 was highlighted by a live fire exercise by the 502nd Combined Arms Brigade which used the newly procured Autonomous Truck Mounted Howitzer System (ATMOS) 155mm self-propelled guns.

The primary goal of the exercise was to effectively test the Army’s capability to move, maneuver, and sustain large-scale forces during combat operations. 

"As the Philippine Army evolves its unit trainings in order to address the fast-changing security environment, it is paramount to conduct the CATEX. The design of the various unit trainings involving different warfighting functions will be integrated in order to exercise combined arms operations as the highest form of unit training involving maneuver, maneuver support, maneuver service support and reserve units," Dema-ala said on Saturday, March 16.

During a live-fire exercise, the troops use live ammunition and ordnance instead of blanks or dummies to test the firepower of their weapons and integrate various warfighting techniques.

The Army received 12 units of the ATMOS self-propelled guns from Israeli defense company Elbit Systems in 2021. The weapons were procured for P2.4 billion under the second horizon of the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Meanwhile, the Army's Armor Division also employed its 120mm Mounted Mortar System (MMS) and Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) as part of the exercise.

CATEX Katihan is the first-ever Army-wide combined arms training. It bolsters the Army's shift from internal security or fighting local communists and terrorist groups to territorial defense which includes external threats.

A total of 4,706 "dismounted contingents" and 1,463 "mounted contingents" from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao are participating in the exercise, which focuses on the execution of a combined arms operation where the full integration of all warfighting functions is applied in a controlled but realistic environment.

The dismounted contingents refer to units that are not utilizing any transport while mounted contingents are units that use motorized, armor, and tracked artillery formations.

The exercise is anchored on the Army Implementing Plan "Maragtas". It will be concluded on March 18 through an After Activity Review at Camp O'Donnell in Capas.