MANILA—Balikatan 2016 (BK 16) kicked off Wednesday with the AFP launching preliminary work on five different school buildings and community medical engagements. In the coming weeks U.S. forces will join the AFP as they work shoulder-to-shoulder during these engagements and throughout the exercise.
Balikatan is an annual Philippine-U.S. military bilateral training exercise that is a signature element of the Philippine-U.S. alliance focused on a variety of missions including humanitarian assistance, maritime law enforcement, and environmental protection.
The opening ceremony for BK 16 is scheduled to take place on April 4, followed by several training events throughout the 12-day exercise. The closing ceremony is scheduled to be held on April 15.
During the military drills, Philippine and U.S. service members will conduct humanitarian civil assistance projects throughout Panay and Palawan. Preliminary work on community infrastructure projects begins at the end of March. BK 16 will demonstrate cooperation and interoperability between the Philippines and the U.S., consistent with the Mutual Defense Treaty and Visiting Forces Agreement.
Throughout BK 16, AFP and U.S. forces will work together to enhance maritime law enforcement throughout the Philippines in order to meet annual training requirements, and enhance techniques, tactics, and procedures as a critical part of interoperability of our forces.
Military service members from both countries will also conduct combined simulation supported events and operational events in three main commands of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Western Command, Northern Luzon Command, and Sothern Luzon Command), and other major Philippine military camps such as Crow Valley, Fort Magsaysay, Clark Air Field, Subic Bay, Palawan and Panay to improve their ability to work together, partnering in capabilities and plan follow-on operations. One of the main operations for this year’s exercise will be the implementation of a joint rapid reaction force as part of the distributed operations in the vicinity of Panay, demonstrating the partnered capability in rapid response.
BK16 is the 32nd iteration of the annual exercise. A number of personnel from other regional partner nations will attend a portion of the exercise.
“Balikatan” in Filipino means “shoulder-to-shoulder” and characterizes the spirit of the exercise and the Philippines-U.S. alliance.#