‘Balikatan’ to ramp up response to natural, man-made calamities

MANILA -The goal of the annual "Balikatan" exercises is to improve the capability of participating Filipino and American units in responding to rising incidents of natural and man-made calamities in the Philippines, an official said Thursday.

"Every year we are (try) to level up the training, for example yung humanitarian assistance and disaster response training natin, last year nagfocus lang po sa natural calamity, so this year (we are not only training for) natural calamities but of course paghahandaan din nila yung man-made (calamities)," "Balikatan 2018" public information officer Lt. Liezl Vidallan said in an interview.

Vidallon declined to give the exact numbers of participating US and Filipino troops pending the actual start of the exercises.

On its 34th year, this year's "Balikatan" will formally start on May 7 and end on May 18.

Vidallon added that lessons learned during the previous "Balikatan" exercises will be incorporated in the various field exercises planned for this year.

In last year's 'Balikatan' exercises, around 2,800 Filipino soldiers, 2,600 Americans, 80 members of the Australian Defense Forces a,nd 20 from the Japan Self Defense Force participated in the series of military maneuvers which started May 8 and ended on the 18th.

Highlights of last year's exercises are the urban search-and-rescue (SAR) and collapsed structures exercises which was conducted at Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City, Nueva Ecija.

The SAR involves rescue methods for individuals trapped under collapsed structures, a common result in strong earthquakes. (With reports from Ericka Cirera, OJT/PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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