More intense, bigger PHL-US military exercise set to begin

Exercise Balikatan 2015, seen as the biggest military exercise between Philippines and United States in 15 years, is set to officially open tomorrow, April 20. “Philippines have long been a security partner of ours,” US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said during his recent visit in Japan.

“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,” Carter adds.

Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said today, April 19, ”it is called Balikatan or shoulder-to-shoulder exercises of the two countries with the objective of achieving peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Balikatan 2015 also includes conduct of community seminars regarding first aide, common diseases in the time of calamities and healthy lifestyle. Engineering civic assistance projects like building of classrooms are also part of Balikatan.

During the 10-day Exercise Balikatan, 6,656 American soldiers and 5,023 Filipino soldiers will participate in three major events namely Field Training Exercises (FTX), Humanitarian Civic Assistance (HCA) and Command Post Exercise (CPX) with Marine Security (MARSEC) and Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise (CALFEX). Preliminary training and movement of troops were done prior to opening ceremony scheduled tomorrow.