Successful ‘Balikatan’ gives pause to enemies using force—general
'We are more lethal as a result of this exercise'

Successful ‘Balikatan’ gives pause to enemies using force — US general

/ 03:00 PM May 10, 2024

US, PH troops sink China-made vessel in war games balikatan

TARGET PRACTICE A photo released by the Armed Forces of the Philippines on May 8 shows the BRP Jose Rizal launching a C-Star Surface to Surface Anti-Ship Missile directed toward a mock enemy target during a maritime strike exercise, part of the annual “Balikatan” drills in Laoag, Ilocos Norte. —AFP

MANILA, Philippines — A United States Marine task force commander expressed confidence that the intensified “Balikatan” this year will deter enemies from using force against “sovereign nations” after the war games which made Manila and Washington “more lethal” officially ended on Friday.

Lt. Gen. Michael Cederholm, commanding general of the 1 Marine Expeditionary Force, said this during the closing ceremony of the Exercise Balikatan here in Camp Aguinaldo, an activity which began on April 22 and was joined by over 16,000 personnel from Manila and Washington.


“Balikatan ’24 has been a huge success,” Cederholm said in his speech. “[It] has directly built war fighting readiness for us; it has enhanced tactics, techniques, and procedures across a wide range of military operations.”


Cederholm continued, “It (Balikatan) should also give pause to any adversary who does not believe in a free and open Indo-Pacific, who does not believe in transparency, who does not seek peaceful resolution but will seek to use force to impose their will on other sovereign nations.”

Manila, Washington now ‘more lethal’

The Balikatan this year saw the emergence of drills that sought simulation of an enemy invasion in the northern province of the country near Taiwan, a self-ruled island Beijing deems a renegade province subject to reunification.

“We collectively are better, more capable, and more lethal as a result of this exercise,” Cederholm said.

READ: ‘Made in China’ target ship now a fish shelter after ‘Balikatan’ simulation

Both nations’ forces simulated on Monday their foiling of an invasion attempt by a foreign country in the shores of Laoag — one of the country’s northernmost areas near Taiwan which also faces the West Philippine Sea — through the use of howitzers in their live fire drills.

On Wednesday, the former BRP Lake Caliraya, a discarded “made in China” oil tanker that represented a ship of an invading country, was also submerged during the sinking drills held in the same coastal city.


Meanwhile, the Philippines was also joined by France and the United States in conducting joint patrols in the West Philippine Sea for the first time, with the activity seeing the presence of four Chinese warships throughout their sail.

PH military out of comfort zone

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said the Balikatan drills this year pushed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) outside of its comfort zone.

“Exercises such as this, where at least on the Philippine side, we go out of our normal comfort zone and try to focus on actual soldiering – which is what an armed forces needs to be – was done,” Teodoro said.

Teodoro also told the AFP to brace for  more “pressure” as next year’s Balikatan will see the emergence of a “full battle simulation.”

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“We will be increasing the pressure continuously for them to evolve as soon as possible into a multi-threat, multi-theater operating armed force, consistent with the archipelagic doctrine nature of our country and the necessity for defending it in a proactive and not a passive manner,” he said.

TAGS: "Balikatan" joint military exercises, Balikatan 2024

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