14 March 2013

8,000 Soldiers In Balikatan Exercises

A large number of soldiers from the United States and the Philippines will partake in this year's joint military exercises starting next month in Region 3.

Around 8,000 soldiers from the two countries will conduct their bilateral exercises in Subic Bay Freeport, Camp O'Donnel, Crow Valley in Tarlac, Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija and other areas in Zambales.

According to a statement by the US Embassy, the annual exercises will begin on the fifth of April and will end on the seventeenth.

Included in these exercises are joint humanitarian assistance projects which will be conducted in Zambales. A preliminary work on some the infrastructures will begin this month.

According to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr, military medical personnel will offer free medical, dental and veterinary care. In selected communities, military engineers will construct and repair schools and other infrastructure.

The Balikatan series of exercises focuses on training both the US and Philippines armed forces to provide relief and assistance in the event of natural disasters and other crises that endanger public health and safety. Additionally, armed forces personnel from both countries will conduct combined staff exercises and field training to improve interoperability and contingency planning.

"The end goal of these exercises is to further promote and foster the existing friendship between the people of the Philippines and the United States and advance the security and stability of the region in the near future." Burgos said. (Jonas Reyes, Manila Bulletin)