MANILA This year's "Balikatan" exercises will focus more on territorial defense and counter-terrorism operations, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr. said Monday.
"Balikatan 35-2019 have scaled up exercises, meaning more focus on the area of territorial defense and counter-terrorism operations. It is our primary goal that the exercise outcome would be beneficial for everyone. In the conduct of our four major events, the staff exercise and command post exercise, joint inter-operability events, combined operability events and humanitarian civic assistance events, much shall be learned in enhancing our full spectrum of capabilities," he added.
Past Balikatan exercises have paid more focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
Philippine military assets expected to participate in the maneuvers are the landing dock platform BRP Tarlac (LD-601), the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16) and FA-50 light-fighter trainers.
"Balikatan 2019 aims to enhance the inter-operability of Philippines and United States forces in joint and combined operations and to project a posture of readiness to combat any security threat, it serves as a platform when we could exchange our best practices in various military operations, a venue where we could validate our defense plans and an opportunity where we could amplify our alliances with other participating countries. All of us understand how threats on security constantly evolve, including the non-traditional security challenges at present. As we have this year's Balikatan, we will shoulder the load together to prepare for these scenarios and should a crisis or national disaster occur in the future we will be ready," Madrigal stressed.
Around 4,000 Filipinos, 3, 500 American and 50 Australian troops are participating in the two week maneuvers, which formally started Monday and will end on April 12.
Meanwhile, seven nations namely Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, and Vietnam have deployed military personnel to act as observers. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency