MANILA This year's "Balikatan" exercises is not connected in any way to reports claiming that Chinese missiles systems have been installed in several reefs and islets in the South China Sea.
This was stressed by US Balikatan Exercise director Lt. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson Monday.
"This exercise was scheduled whether those missiles were there or not, and again this is region of change, there are constant things developing within the region but the exercise has long been planned, you know we are already, probably two weeks from now we are talking about next year's 'Balikatan' and you can imagine all the things that will occur in the theater between now and then," he added.
Philippine Balikatan exercise director Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat, meanwhile, said the exercises are just intended to provide training opportunities for both armed forces.
Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said this year's Balikatan will focus on inter-operability training to address traditional and non-traditional security concerns.
"Through this exercise, we hope to improve our counter-terrorism capabilities in order to build safer communities and work towards the eradication of global terror networks," the DND chief disclosed.
"We hope that through this activity we will have a stronger teamwork while we endeavor to achieve our common vision of developing long term cooperation and effective inter-operability between the Philippines and the United States and our allies," he added. (With reports from Ericka Cirera, OJT/PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency