Balikatan 2013 kicks off April 5By Frances Mangosing
MANILA, Philippines – About 8,000 soldiers from the United States and Philippines will participate in this year’s 29th Balikatan exercises in April, the military said Tuesday.
“High-ranking military officers from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, United States military, and other partner countries’ military will convene for the Multinational Maritime Table-Top Exercise (TTX) here in Camp Aguinaldo this April. This will be the highlight of the upcoming Balikatan Exercise 2013 which will kick off on April 5, 2013 here, and will run until April 17,” Colonel Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr., military spokesman said in a statement.
The aim of the TTX is to determine specific Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) operations in high-traffic international waters, and build response confidence among multi-national partners.
Armed forces personnel from both countries will conduct combined staff exercises and field training at Camp O’Donnell, Crow Valley, Subic Bay and Fort Magsaysay “to improve interoperability and contingency planning.”
The US and Philippine security forces will also undertake joint humanitarian assistance projects in communities throughout Zambales province, with preliminary work on community infrastructure projects that will begin mid-March.
Military medical personnel will also offer free medical, dental and veterinary care. In selected communities, military engineers will construct and repair schools and other infrastructure.
The Balikatan exercises, which will focus on humanitarian and disaster response, seeks to address disaster situations that occurred recently in the Philippines with the objectives of supporting the Government with the development of regional disaster management and emergency response mechanisms, Burgos said.