Next year’s ‘Balikatan’ is for ‘full-scale battle’– Teodoro

Next year’s ‘Balikatan’ is for ‘full-scale battle’– Teodoro

Next year’s ‘Balikatan’ is for ‘full-scale battle’– Teodoro

READY FOR THE BIG ONE Next year’s “Balikatan” exercises will simulate a full-scale battle for the first time since the joint Philippines-US drills started in 1991, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said at the closing ceremony of this year’s maneuvers. US Ambassador MaryKay Carlson, sitting beside Teodoro, looks on as Philippine Balikatan director Maj. Gen. Marvin Licudine and US First Marine Expeditionary Force Lt. Gen. Michael Cederholm furl the exercise flag during Friday’s rites at Camp Aguinaldo. —AFP

Next year’s “Balikatan” (shoulder-to-shoulder) exercises between the Philippines and the United States would involve a “full-scale battle simulation” amid the growing regional tensions over Beijing’s sweeping claims to the South China Sea, Defense Secretary Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. said on Friday.

In his speech during the closing ceremony for the annual war games between Manila and Washington at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, Teodoro said the 2025 exercises would test the “combined capabilities” of Filipino and American troops.


“I have told the Armed Forces of the Philippines that we will be increasing the pressure continuously for them to evolve as soon as possible into a multithreat, multitheater 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,” Teodoro said.


“We look forward to this because 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,” he added.

President Marcos, according to him, was looking forward to the next large-scale military exercises next year. The President would likely get an “extensive debrief” of this year’s war games, Teodoro said.

“He looks forward to next year’s exercise which will be, I believe, a full-battle simulation which will put to the test the combined capabilities in the most realistic of scenarios possible, with safety in mind,” Teodoro said.

Dull knives, good chef

The defense chief believes that the military drills between the Philippines and its allies “should be continued because for us men who are consigned to kitchen at home, we know the worst thing in a kitchen is dull knives and a good chef hones the knife every day.”

“This is what we should do and this is what we are going to do singularly, bilaterally and multilaterally,” he said.

“This is the way likeminded nations in this part of the world in the Indo-Pacific should go and no amount of malign or for lack of a better term perverse attempts to subvert our goal for a free and open Indo-Pacific and rules-based international order will stop our shared advance towards upholding this internationally accepted norms come what may,” Teodoro added.


At a press briefing after the closing ceremony, Philippine Exercise Director Maj. Gen. Marvin Licudine said a full-scale battle simulation would mean a more “elevated” exercise.

“It would require a better force integration, an integration that would be seamless, as I have mentioned, because we have to perform. There should be no defects already in the organization, policy and all the aspects,” Licudine said.

This year’s Balikatan exercises between Manila and Washington involved over 16,000 troops and had 14 countries as observers.

Beyond territorial sea

It was also the first time that the Balikatan drills went outside the country’s 22-kilometer (12-nautical mile) territorial sea.

Speaking to reporters while visiting General Santos City on Friday, Marcos said military drills with other countries like the Balikatan were vital in ensuring regional peace and stability.

“That is a big deal because it is the only way that we can guarantee freedom of navigation in the West Philippine Sea, given that many pass through it. The West Philippine Sea must remain free and safe for the global economy,” he said.

Plans with France

Mr. Marcos thanked France and other like-minded countries who expressed support for the Philippines amid its territorial dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea.

France joined the Balikatan by taking part in a multilateral maritime exercise in the West Philippine Sea, where China has made aggressive moves against the Philippines in past months.

The President said future joint military exercises with France and other nations would help ensure stability and freedom of navigation and overflight in the troubled waters.

“We are very thankful for those countries helping the Philippines. They are a huge help in ensuring that the West Philippine Sea remains peaceful, safe and stable,” the President said.

Marcos made the remarks when asked to comment on the possible pact between France and the Philippines to hold joint military exercises.

Last month, French Ambassador to Manila Marie Fontanel said defense officials of both countries would meet in Paris in May to discuss details of a visiting forces agreement.

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The Philippines has similar arrangements with the United States and Australia and is drafting a reciprocal access agreement with Japan.

TAGS: Balikatan, Security

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