Defense Department News

U.S., Philippine Service Members Conduct Mass-Casualty Exercise


First responders can't wait for disaster to strike to decide what they need to do. They must always train for the worst of situations so they are prepared when the need arises.

U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Alexander Davis adjusts a satellite communication antenna during Balikatan 2017 at Camp Lapulapu, Cebu, April 25, 2017. Balikatan is an annual U.S.-Philippine military bilateral exercise focused on a variety of missions, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and counterterrorism.
Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Alexander Davis adjusts a satellite communication antenna during Exercise Balikatan 2017 at Camp Lapulapu, Philippines, April 25, 2017. Balikatan is an annual U.S.-Philippine military bilateral exercise focused on a variety of missions, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and counterterrorism. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Corey Pettis
U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Alexander Davis adjusts a satellite communication antenna during Balikatan 2017 at Camp Lapulapu, Cebu, April 25, 2017. Balikatan is an annual U.S.-Philippine military bilateral exercise focused on a variety of missions, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and counterterrorism.
Providing Communications
Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Alexander Davis adjusts a satellite communication antenna during Exercise Balikatan 2017 at Camp Lapulapu, Philippines, April 25, 2017. Balikatan is an annual U.S.-Philippine military bilateral exercise focused on a variety of missions, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and counterterrorism. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Corey Pettis
Photo By: U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Corey Pettis
VIRIN: 170425-F-ED489-1015

The Hawaii National Guard and Charlie Company of the 448th Civil Affairs Battalion trained alongside Philippine soldiers yesterday in a training exercise to prepare for disasters and crises on Calayan Island in the Philippine province of Cagayan.

As part of Exercise Balikatan 2017, active duty and reserve Philippine service members, Hawaii National Guard soldiers, Calayan Fire Department members and eager citizen volunteers participated in a simulated mass-casualty exercise.

U.S. and Philippine service members and civilian first responders put weeks of training into action with a simulated medical evacuation for a downed pilot as a culminating event for the exercise.

“Everyone did excellent, -- they’ve worked hard for the last two weeks in three locations in the country,” said U.S. Army Capt. Rob McQueen, 448th Civil Affairs Battalion civil affairs officer.

Strong Bonds

For some members of the exercise, despite just meeting a few weeks ago, the bonds built through training are starting to help day-to-day operations and communication between the two partner militaries. 

“This is my first mission with the Philippine army, and it has been great,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Courtney Lindsay of the Hawaii Guard. “Since we’ve touched down, they’ve been very kind and generous. I just only image our relationship getting stronger.”

Philippine Special Forces demonstrate to U.S. Soldiers, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, how to make a fire from bamboo shoots during a subject matter expert exchange in support of Balikatan 2017 at Fort Magsaysay in Santa Rosa, Nueva Ecija, May 13, 2017.  U.S. Soldiers trained with Philippine Special Forces to understand the Armed Forces of the Philippines' techniques for operating in a jungle environment. Balikatan is an annual U.S.-Philippine bilateral military exercise focused on a variety of missions, including humanitarian and disaster relief, counterterrorism, and other combined military operations.
Philippine special forces soldiers demonstrate to U.S. soldiers of the U.S. Army's 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, how to make a fire from bamboo shoots during a subject-matter-expert exchange in support of Exercise Balikatan 2017 at Fort Magsaysay in Santa Rosa, Philippines, May 13, 2017. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Matthew Casbarro
Philippine Special Forces demonstrate to U.S. Soldiers, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, how to make a fire from bamboo shoots during a subject matter expert exchange in support of Balikatan 2017 at Fort Magsaysay in Santa Rosa, Nueva Ecija, May 13, 2017.  U.S. Soldiers trained with Philippine Special Forces to understand the Armed Forces of the Philippines' techniques for operating in a jungle environment. Balikatan is an annual U.S.-Philippine bilateral military exercise focused on a variety of missions, including humanitarian and disaster relief, counterterrorism, and other combined military operations.
Humanitarian Assistance
Philippine special forces soldiers demonstrate to U.S. soldiers of the U.S. Army's 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, how to make a fire from bamboo shoots during a subject-matter-expert exchange in support of Exercise Balikatan 2017 at Fort Magsaysay in Santa Rosa, Philippines, May 13, 2017. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Matthew Casbarro
Photo By: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Matthew Casbarro
VIRIN: 170513-M-ZZ999-1029

The exercise, which focused on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, started with the recovery of an injured pilot hoisted up to a medical UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, followed by collecting and caring for 20 injured civilians. This required the participants to learn how to triage and act with speed to get the role-player victims out of the danger zone with the use of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter.

Each group brought a different perspective and skill set to the combined training event, which enabled all participating forces to learn different skills and new ways of thinking to address mass casualty events.

“Building friends, working together, and sharing resources have been the best thing that I have gotten from all of this,” Lindsay said.