PH-US Balikatan 2018 to take up lessons from Marawi
Part of this year’s 34th iteration of the Philippine-US Balikatan exercises will take up lessons from the Marawi siege, the country’s biggest security crisis in recent years.
Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat, Balikatan exercise director and commander of the Northern Luzon Command, said they will share the lessons learned from the Mindanao crisis with their US counterparts during the annual bilateral military drills.
“It’s called the military operation on urban terrain,” he told Inquirer.net.
The five-month clash between security forces and Islamic State-linked terrorists in Marawi City last year exposed the complexities of urban warfare, far from the jungle warfare that government troops have mostly trained for.
The Balikatan exercises, the biggest between the Philippines and US, will be held from May 7 to 18, said US ambassador to Manila Sung Kim in a press briefing.
“This year’s Balikatan will allow US and Philippines to train for potential real events,” he said.
While the crisis had ended six months ago, he warned of the possibility of another Marawi-like crisis repeating as the threat continues to exist.
“Our experts, including those in the military and their Filipino counterparts believe the threat continues to exist. We must remain vigilant and we must continue to work together including through sharing intelligence information to counter the threat that continues to persist,” the ambassador said.
He said the military cooperation between the United States and the Philippines is “robust” especially in counterterrorism. Kim added that the US and the Philippines will continue working together to make sure that both countries are prepared for such similar events.
Aside from the counterterrorism exercises, both countries will also train for mutual defense, and humanitarian assistance and disaster response. Japan and Australia will be joining as observers.
Ahead of the actual drills, the Philippines and US have started to construct school buildings in Cagayan, Isabela, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija.
Balikatan activities open for media coverage include the amphibious landing exercises at the Naval Education and Training Command in San Antonio, Zambales and the combined arms live fire exercise at the Col. Ernesto Rabina Air Base in Crow Valley, Tarlac. /muf
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