'Maximum benefits' gained as Philippines, US end Balikatan

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
'Maximum benefits' gained as Philippines, US end Balikatan
American and Filipino troops participate in an Amphibious landing exercise simulating a beach assault during the Annual Balikatan held at San Antonio, Zambales.
Philstar.com / Efigenio Toledo IV, File

MANILA, Philippines – Both Filipino and American forces gained maximum benefits from the two-week joint military exercises in the country, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said.

The AFP and the United States Armed Forces have officially concluded the annual Balikatan exercises on Friday.

"We close this year’s Balikatan Exercises with both Philippine and US Forces gained maximum benefits from the various training exchanges and cooperation. It provided venue for lot of more learning opportunities but also extended significant community assistance that gained popular support of less fortunate people in selected area in Northern Luzon," Philippines exercise director Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat said in a statement.

Salamat added that the recently concluded joint exercises manifested the commitment from both forces to pursue cooperation and interoperability.

"Our militaries have grown together in friendship, provided a benefit to countless people, and are better prepared to respond as one cohesive team to any crisis or challenge that may threaten the peace and stability that our alliance has helped to secure," Brig. Gen. Thomas Weidly of the US Marine Corps said.

Around 5,000 Filipino and 3,000 American soldiers participated in various exercises this year, including planning and simulation exercises, operational training events and civic activities held in different locations in Luzon.

The Australian Defense Force and Japan Self Defense Force also joined some of the activities as observers.

The troops conducted amphibious landing exercise in San Antonio, Zambales and combined arms live-fire exercise in Capas, Tarlac. These planning and simulation exercises sought to enhance interoperability of troops in sea to land operations.

Also part of the Balikatan exercises were civic activities such as completing new school buildings on elementary schools in Cagayan, Isabela, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija.

"Troops also installed drainage systems, sidewalks, and water catchment systems within the selected schools. Medical engagements and spiritual enhancement activities were also conducted in these areas," the AFP said in a release.

This year's military exercises were focused on counterterrorism and mutual defense, such as addressing traditional and non-traditional security threats.





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