Philippines-United States Exercise Balikatan 2022 officially opens

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The 37th iteration of the Philippines-United States Exercise Balikatan was officially opened in a ceremony held at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) General Headquarters on Monday, March 28.

The 3,800 AFP and 5,100 United States Military members will participate in the combined joint exercises across the country.

The opening ceremony was attended by Defense Undersecretary Cardozo M Luna; AFP Chief of Staff, General Andres C Centino; Major General Charlton Sean M Gaerlan, Philippine Exercise Director and Commander of AFP Education, Training and Doctrines Command; Major General Jay M Bargeron, U.S. Exercise Director; and U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, Heather Variava.

“Each year through Balikatan, we reaffirm our commitment to each other under the Mutual Defense Treaty and we execute an array of bilateral training event to help us develop interoperability and maintain readiness as allies,” said Maj. Gen. Bargeron.

The events in this year’s Exercise Balikatan are specifically designed to enhance force capability and strengthen cooperation in maritime security, amphibious operations, live fire training, urban operations, aviation operations, counterterrorism and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

“Undoubtedly, these activities will positively impact our force readiness and strengthen our robust alliance,” said Maj. Gen. Gaerlan.

Exercise Balikatan remains to be the AFP’s biggest training activity with the U.S. counterpart focusing on capability development and enhancing interoperability.

“The Balikatan Exercises affirm that the United States and the Philippines are not alone in espousing peace, security and cooperation in the region,” said Undersecretary Luna.

The longstanding exercise enhances the ability of forces to work together, and increases both militaries’ capability to provide training and assistance in crisis-action planning and humanitarian and civic assistance operations.

“This combined joint exercise is an opportunity for the United States and the Philippines to reaffirm our commitment to even more robust ties and to a relationship that remains highly relevant as the world faces new and continuing challenges,” said Ms. Variava.

The AFP Chief of Staff on the other hand encouraged the participants to make the most of the opportunities in this year’s exercises.

“I urge all the Filipino and American soldiers who are taking part in this year’s Balikatan Exercise to embody professionalism, excellence and camaraderie as we maximize the opportunities offered to us in this event. I am confident that both of our Armed Forces shall reap immense benefits from this exercise as we continue to pursue our shared goals of regional peace, security and stability,” said General Centino. — AFP

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