The recently concluded two-week joint military exercises in the country provided maximum benefits to both Filipino and American forces, according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
“We close this year’s Balikatan Exercises with both Philippine and US Forces gained maximum benefits from the various training exchanges and cooperation. It provided venue for lot of more learning opportunities but also extended significant community assistance that gained popular support of less fortunate people in selected area in Northern Luzon,” said Philippines exercise director Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat in a statement.
Salamat added that the annual joint exercises that concluded on Friday displayed the commitment of both forces in pursuing cooperation and interoperability.
“Our militaries have grown together in friendship, provided a benefit to countless people, and are better prepared to respond as one cohesive team to any crisis or challenge that may threaten the peace and stability that our alliance has helped to secure,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Weidly of the US Marine Corps.
Various exercises were held in different locations in Luzon this year including planning and simulation exercises, operational training events, and civic activities. Around 5,000 Filipino and 3,000 American soldiers participated in said exercises while the Australian Defense Force and Japan Self Defense Force joined as observers.
The interoperability of troops in sea to land operations were enhanced during the planning and simulation exercises. An amphibious landing exercise was conducted in San Antonio, Zambales while a combined arms live-fire exercise was held in Capas, Tarlac.
Civic activities were also part of the Balikatan exercises. The troops helped complete new elementary school buildings in Isabela, Cagayan, Tarlac, and Nueva Ecija.
“Troops also installed drainage systems, sidewalks, and water catchment systems within the selected schools. Medical engagements and spiritual enhancement activities were also conducted in these areas,” according to the statement released by the AFP.
The Balikatan military exercises this year were focused on counter-terrorism and mutual defense including addressing traditional and non-traditional security threats.
via The Philippine Star / Patricia Lourdes Viray