Over 8,000 PH, US troops to join Balikatan 2013By Frances Mangosing
MANILA, Philippines – Over 8,000 Philippine and American troops will participate in this year’s Balikatan military exercises, which will be held from April 5 to 17.
In a statement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said 30 aircraft and three vessels from both US and Philippine militaries are set to be deployed to support the joint exercises.
Of the 30 aircraft, 20 will come from the US military, 14 of which have already arrived in Clark Air Base, Pampanga last Monday while the rest will start to arrive consecutively on Wednesday until April 8. The air assets will be used for joint humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR)-focused military training in Central Luzon and will also provide air logistics support and services to the participating troops of both countries.
Meanwhile, the USS Tortuga, the only US Navy ship taking part in the annual military exercise docked in Manila Bay on Tuesday to offload military personnel and equipment for the exercises.
Nine aircraft from the Philippine Air Force will be deployed, while the Philippine Navy will deploy one of its Highlanders and two vessels.
The Balikatan is the 4th humanitarian assistance/disaster response- focused bilateral exercise held every other year since 2008.
Also invited to join are security officials from Australia, Brunei, Japan, Republic of Korea, and Thailand who will unite with high ranking officers from the AFP and US Military in the Multinational Maritime Security Roundtable Discussion in Camp Aguinaldo.
The Balikatan is based on the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty which is conducted every year to serve as a venue for joint and combined training between the militaries of both countries.