MANILA–This year’s “Balikatan” exercises with American forces will focus mostly on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) and counter-terrorists operations.
This was confirmed by Philippine “Balikatan” public affairs officer Major Frank Sayson in an interview Sunday.
The annual maneuvers will take place on the second week of May, he added.
No exercises with live-fire applications will be conducted in this year’s activities.
Activities will be clustered in the National Capital Region, Nothern Luzon and Central Command operational areas.
“Exercises will focus on inter-operability of both forces in HADR exercises,” Sayson said in Filipino.
He added this is line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s instruction to focus more on the HADR aspects on the annual military training with the Americans.
Aside from the latter, Filipino and American troops will also participate in counter-terrorism exercises which is also aligned to the Chief Executive’s order to crack down on Abu Sayyaf bandits and lawless elements.
Sayson declined to give the exact number of participating American and Filipino troops as the activities are still being fine-tuned and adjusted.