MANILA–Despite the lack of offensive military exercises in this year’s “Balikatan” manuevers, participating US troops are still looking forward to training with their Filipino counterparts.
This was stressed by US “Balikatan” exercise director Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson shortly after Monday’s opening ceremonies.
“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 should 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.
When asked on whether US troops, of which 2,600 are participating, are feeling let down due to the focus on HADR and counter-terrorism, Nicholson said this is not the case.
“I can tell you that every Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, men that’s coming to the Philippines for the exercise are not disappointed, they are looking forward, again as I said HADR and counter-terrorism are two critically important areas of concern for both of our nations, for all other nations, so I think there’s a lot of work to be done,” he noted.
“There’s a lot of sharing of techniques and tactics and procedures so we’re excited by the work that we are going to do, and yes absolutely we think in the years ahead there will be different focuses for ‘Balikatan,’ so I’m confident that this year’s (will be a) success,” he added.
“Balikatan” formally started on May 8 and will end on the 19th.