Batanes eyed among sites of next Balikatan drills

Batanes eyed among sites of next Balikatan drills

/ 05:30 AM March 06, 2024

WAR GAMES PREP American soldiers prepare missiles for the Avenger air defense system, a self-propelled surface-to-air missile system, during a live-fire demonstration in this year’s Philippine-US “Balikatan” military exercises in San Antonio, Zambales, on Tuesday. —MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

Philippine-US “Balikatan” INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Set to start in April, the next large-scale military exercises between Philippine and American forces are veering away from “traditional” locations and may include Batanes, the country’s northernmost province and an island chain close to Taiwan.

“Batanes is one of the locations that we are considering in the execution of Balikatan,” said Philippine Army Col. Michael Logico at a press briefing at Camp Aguinaldo on Tuesday. “We will also be doing maritime exercises west of Palawan and we will also be doing integrated air missile defense exercises in Central Luzon.”


“We are venturing away from our traditional training areas,” he added, citing Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija as an example.


On Feb. 7, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Romeo Brawner Jr. and other military officials visited Batanes to inspect the ongoing construction of a naval base in Mahatao town.

In remarks made during the visit, Teodoro said he would like to see an increased military presence in the province.

On Tuesday, Logico said France and Australia would participate in the upcoming Balikatan drills, while Japan was also invited to join.

Mock enemy ship

The exercises would again include the sinking of a mock enemy ship in the West Philippine Sea. A similar drill was conducted last year with the sinking of the BRP Pangasinan, a decommissioned Philippine Navy vessel, in the waters off San Antonio, Zambales.

“We will have the same, actually we call it the maritime strike exercise so it will still involve the same concept of sinking a vessel as our target,” he said.

READ: PAF conducts air patrol over possible war games venue in Batanes


This year’s drills would also focus on nonphysical aspects like cybersecurity, he said.

Col. Frances Margareth Padilla, AFP spokesperson, said 39th iteration of the Balikatan exercises would be held from the third week of April to the first week of May.

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She earlier said it would be “bigger” than last year, which had about 17,000 personnel from both countries taking part. —Nestor Corrales

TAGS: Balikatan, Batanes, Military exercises

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