Exercise Balikatan 2015 biggest in 15 years: PHL-US renewing security cooperation

The 31st series of Exercise Balikatan is seen to be the biggest between Philippines and United States in 15 years. 6,656 American soldiers, 5,023 Filipino soldiers and 61 Australian soldiers will participate, while US will deploy 76 military aircraft and Philippines will utilize 15 planes and helicopters.

“Philippines have long been a security partner of ours – we want to deepen that kind of security and I think that the government of the Philippines wants to do the same. That is reflected in the increased activity and intensity of our exercises together,” US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said while in Japan.

He noted that just like with Japan and South Korea, “United States and the Philippines are also renewing our security cooperation at this time.”

Exercise Balikatan 2015 will formally be opened on April 20. There will be three major events namely Humanitarian Civic Assistance (HCA), Command Post Exercise (CPX) and Field Training Exercises (FTX). Palawan-based Western Command commander Vice Admiral Aexander Lopez will be this year’s exercise director.

The Command Post Exercise will focus on Marine Security (MARSEC) with Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise (CALFEX). While the Field Training Exercises will be held at Crow Valley Gunnery Range in Tarlac, Basa Air Base and Clark Air Base both in Pampanga, Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Marine Base Gregorio Lim and Naval Base Heracleo Alano in Cavite and Naval Station Leovigildo Gantiouqui in Zambales.