The Philippine Navy through the Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) completed the 5-day Exercise Pagsisikap 2021 with an Amphibious raid and landing at the White Beach of barangay Bulangsi in Panamao, Sulu on October 29, 2021.
The amphibious operations, according to the NFWM PAO, used two (2) Landing Crafts and four (4) Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAVs) launched from the sea from Landing Dock 601 (LD601) off the coast of Panamao, Sulu. The Landing Crafts and the AAVs carried a battalion of marines from the Marine Amphibious Ready Unit (MARU) who were inserted from the sea to the area to assimilate the retaking of the coastal barangay from enemy forces. Prior to the insertion ashore of the main body, Navy SEALS were landed early to clear the area and eliminate prepositioned targets in order to reduce the risk of the MARU arriving.
Days before the Amphibious Landing, troops from the 2nd Naval Mobile Construction Batallion, Marine Battalion Landing Team 8, Naval Reservists, and civilian volunteers carried out Civil-Military Operations in the area, including the construction of a flea market for residents to display and sell their produce, as well as the improvement of three (3) deep wells used by the barangay as sources of fresh water supply.
There was also a medical mission where residents availed of free medical consultation and minor surgery. They were also given free eyeglasses, medicines, household supplies, and children’s toys. Similarly, the Naval Information Communications and Technology Station-Zamboanga provided free appliance repair and movie screening for the kids.
Officials from the local government units of Sulu expressed gratitude to the Navy for initiating worthwhile activities for the residents’ welfare. The Abu Sayaff Group’s lair and stronghold used to be in Barangay Bulangsi (ASG). Former members of the ASG gave their services and actively participated in the construction of the flea market and deep wells.
In his speech during the closing ceremony of the said naval exercise, Commander, Joint Task Force Sulu and 11th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, MGen William N. Gonzales PA shared that “the conclusion of the unilateral exercise dubbed as Exercise Pagsisikap 2021 enabled us to identify capability gaps that we should address to address current challenges in the operational area while at the same time strategically posturing us to meet future challenges in this joint area of operation.”
RADM Toribio D. Adaci Jr. PN, Commander, Naval Forces Western Mindanao, praised all participants for putting in the effort to complete all of the exercise’s scenarios and serials, including the successful firing of the Spike ER missile, during the exercise critique and hotwash held aboard the LD601 in Zamboanga City on October 30, 2021.
Adaci also praised the activity’s success and achievement of its goals, which included testing wartime and peacetime naval operations doctrines, training sailors and marines to keep them operationally ready, and projecting the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ ability to protect and secure the country’s archipelagic waters and littoral areas, particularly the Navy’s Fleet-Marine forces.
To prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 virus, all exercise-related activities were carried out in accordance with health regulations.