MANILA–With the US and the Philippines starting its 33rd iteration of the “Balikatan” exercises Monday, Armed Forces chief-of-staff Gen. Eduardo Año said the manuevers will provide both forces with the opportunity to validate their inter-operability.
“The RP-US ‘Balikatan’ exercises have been an avenue for us to enhance the cooperation between our military forces, through continuous training and learning we have mutually developed our teamwork. this annual exercise have also provided the opportunity to test and validate our force inter-operability,” he added.
These exercises would also allow both US and Philippine Armed Forces to evaluate bilateral procedures, protocols and provide us a common operating picture necessary to establish the right mechanism for better collaborative actions, Año pointed out.
“This have allowed us to strengthen existing strategies and also to venture into new paradigms necessary to the demand of our job. Recent global and local events have taught us that we must be proficient in both traditional and non-traditional military capabilities,” the military chief stressed.
“Balikatan” 2017 is noted for having mostly high-impact humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) drills, which include urban search-and-rescue (including collapsed structure rescue in event of earthquakes) and landing of relief units and goods in a typhoon-isolated area.
HADR is one of the missions President Rodrigo Duterte wants the AFP to more proficient in along with counter-terrorism.
In the ongoing worldwide campaign against terrorism, Año said the Armed Forces and its US counterparts had been working unceasingly to destroy all persons and factions who supported this form of lunacy.
“Just recently our successful operations in Bohol which resulted to the death of nine Abu Sayyaf Group members, including their spokesman and potential upcoming leader ‘Abu Rami’ (Muamar Askali); and the operations in Sulu Province, which resulted to the death of the notorious kidnapper and ASG sub-leader Alhabsy Misaya, they are manifestations that are aimed to eradicate terrorism is on the right track,” he added.
“Balikatan” 2017 is scheduled to end on the 19th. Participating troops for the US are placed at 2,600 personnel, with the Philippines fielding in 2,800 and 80 for the Australian Defense Forces.