MANILA — The Government of the Philippines has invited U.S. forces to train alongside the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the 33rd iteration of Balikatan, May 8 to 19, at multiple locations in Luzon and the Visayas region.
Philippine and U.S. forces will kick off Exercise Balikatan 33-2017 through community engagement activities in Panay, Leyte, and Samar. U.S. and Filipino service members will work together to renovate five schools and conduct community medical engagements with local residents in the opening days of the 12-day military training exercise. Preliminary work on community infrastructure projects began mid-April.
Balikatan 33-2017 incorporates high value training events designed to enhance the capabilities of both AFP and U.S. armed forces. The training focuses on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in order to improve response effectiveness and speed in the event of natural disasters and other crises that endanger public health and safety.
“Balikatan is designed to meet current challenges facing the Philippines,” said Molly Koscina, U.S. Embassy Press Attaché. “Along with preparing the U.S. forces’ and AFP’s ability to respond to natural disasters and deliver humanitarian aid, Balikatan will also increase our militaries’ counterterrorism capabilities.”
This year’s exercise will have AFP and U.S. forces partnering to improve their counterterrorism capabilities in order to build safer communities and work towards the eradication of global terror networks. During Balikatan, U.S. and Philippine forces will conduct operational and counterterrorism training exercises in diverse areas of expertise, including live fire advanced marksmanship, counter improvised explosive devices (IED), maritime interdiction, and amphibious raids.
In this year’s Balikatan, the Philippines and the United States will continue to collaborate with regional partner nations: forces from Australia and Japan will participate in all major training events, and the AFP has invited military forces from several other nations to be part of the International Observers Program.#