- Around 8,000 Filipino and American troops will be joining 2018’s “Balikatan” exercises
- Some 20 troopers from Japan and 60 troopers from Australia will also be participating as observers
- The “Balikatan” 2018 is the 34th iteration of the bilateral exercise between the Philippines and the United States
Around 8,000 Filipino and American troops will be joining this year’s “Balikatan” exercises which started on Monday, May 7 and will end on May 18.
This figure is composed of 5,000 soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and 3,000 troops from the US Marines, Navy, Air Force and Special Operations Force, according to Lt. Liezl M. Vidallon, “Balikatan” Combined Joint Information Bureau head.
Also, some 20 troopers from the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force and 60 troopers from the Australian Defense Force will also be participating as observers in the two-week event.
The “Balikatan” 2018 is the 34th iteration of the bilateral exercise between the Philippines and the United States Pacific Command. The activities are focused on addressing traditional and non-traditional security concerns.
Philippine “Balikatan” Exercise director Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat said during the opening ceremonies: “The ‘Balikatan’ Exercise is an annual military training that manifest the long-standing relationship between the AFP and the US Armed Forces. We will continue this commitment to strenghten our alliance to learn from both forces and improve our inter-operability. This year’s focus is to enhance our capacity for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and counter-terrorism.”
“Our nations expects us to be ready when they need us the most. So whether that threat is man-made or natural, we must ready. That is the great essence of ‘Balikatan’,” said US “Balikatan” Exercise director Lt. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicolson.
The exercise scenarios are based on counter-terrorism, mutual defense, and HADR. “Balikatan 2018” is broken down to three distinct sections, said Lt. Vidallon.
Meanwhile, highlights of 2017’s balikatan exercises were the urban search-and-rescue and collapsed structures exercises which were conducted at the Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City, Nueva Ecija.