Today, May 5, 2014, 30th Balikatan Exercises officially started. This is the first US-PH joint military exercises after the recent signing of EDCA. Five thousand five hundred military, 3000 from AFP and 2500 from US military will join including Australian troops. This year’s Balikatan will focus on maritime threats, humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
During the opening ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo Defence Secrtary Voltaire Gazmin said, “This year’s Balikatan exercises will zero in towards enhancing our combined capacity to undertake humanitarian assistance and disaster response as well as to deal with maritime security.” “We as allies both recognize it would serve as enabler, making it effective for us to conduct combined exercises,” Gazmin said pertaining to the recently signed EDCA.
“While this may be an exercise, the skills you practice have real world implications for the safety and security, not only of the Philippines, but the entire region,” US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg said. US top diplomat in the Philippines emphasized that US-PH is “Shoulder to shoulder ready to defend when needed.”
According to AFP Chief of Staff General Emmanuel Bautista, both countries have benefited “in interoperability, peace and security in the Asia Pacific.”
Field training exercises will be held at military camps in northern Philippines, while staff planning exercises will be at AFP GHQ and WESCOM in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.