Feature: RP-US Balikatan 2008
Camp Henry T Allen, Baguio City (23 February) -- Balikatan 2008, a Philippines - US bilateral military humanitarian assistance and training exercise kicked February 18 and will last March 3, the US Embassy in Manila announced Thursday.
During Balikatan 2008, Filipino and Americans would launch humanitarian assistance projects in Central and Western Mindanao, in the Sulo Archipelago and Palawan. They will offer free medical, dental and veterinary care, construct and repair schools and community infrastructure in communities most in need of assistance.
Balikatan will focus on training both the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the United States to provide relief and assistance together in the event of natural disasters and other crisis that endanger public health and safety.
Military service members of the two countries would conduct combined staff exercise and field training in Luzon and Palawan to improve contingency planning and strengthen maritime security. US Navy ships visits and a Joint/Combined Exchange Training Exercise would be held in several locations in the Philippines, a source in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Manila said.
These humanitarian assistance and training activities enable our soldiers to get to know each other, train together and provide assistance in communities where the need is greatest, said US Ambassador Kristie A Kenny.
"True to the meaning of the world Balikatan, this exercise entails Philippines and US forces shouldering the load together to help the greatest possible number of the people in need" Ambassador Kenny stated in the press release.
Balikatan 2008 will be the 24th annual event of its kind held under the auspices on the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
Balikatan (BK) is an annual bilateral U. S. - Republic of the Philippines exercise that consists of a STAFF EX, Humanitarian and Civic Assistance / Civil Military Operations (HCA / CMO) and Field Training Exercise (FTX). Balikatan fosters interoperability and enhances the Armed Forces of the Philippines counter terrorism capabilities. The exercise reinforces Hq USPACOM Theater Security Cooperation goals and objectives and ensures participation / integration of non-government organizations on the execution of CMO activities.
It also seeks to improve multi-national training opportunities and operations be potentially integrating the Australian Defense Force in the BK series as participants. Malaysia and Indonesia will observe with the Republic of Korea potentially participating as observers. USARPAC is the exercise Executive Agent (EA) for Balikatan 2008. (11th CRU, 1CRG, CRSAFP) [top]