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PH-US ‘Balikatan’ exercises set in April

February 6, 2023 People's Journal 478 views

THIS year’s “Balikatan” military exercises between American and Filipino troops will take place in April.

“The AFP and the US Armed Forces are once again holding the 38th iteration of annual bilateral ‘Balikatan’ exercises. Although this is a bilateral activity, the AFP takes the lead in planning and execution, supported by the US Armed Forces with other like-minded nations as observers,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar said in a statement Monday.

Aguilar said “Balikatan” 38-2023 will help the AFP in developing its external defense capabilities and fulfilling its obligations to other countries in the region in terms of countering terrorism and other security threats.

“‘Balikatan’ 38-2023 will result in the development of the AFP capability not only in the conduct of external defense operations but also in fulfilling its obligation in working with other countries in the region against terrorism and other threats,” he added.

The AFP neither indicated the exact dates of the exercises nor gave an exact number of participating American and Filipino military personnel for this year’s exercises.

However, it said the maneuvers will be held in the areas of jurisdiction of the Northern Luzon Command, Visayas Command and Western Command.

“Yun (the) number of (participating) personnel is still undergoing discussion,” AFP public affairs office chief Col. Jorry Baclor told reporters.

He also said the “Balikatan” exercises are for the second week of April but added that this is still “tentative” and is still “to be finalized”.

In the 2022 iteration of “Balikatan,” around 3,800 members of the AFP and 5,100 US military personnel — the largest number of combined personnel of the two militaries in the annual exercise since the start of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic in 2020, participated in the annual exercises.

The Philippines and US exercise forces employed more than 50 aircraft, four ships, 10 amphibious craft, four high mobility artillery rocket system launchers, and four Patriot missile systems during “Balikatan” 2022.

“Balikatan” 2022 also included approximately 40 personnel from the Australian Defense Force. Philippine News Agency