‘Bigger’ Balikatan Military Exercises Set for April, Says PH Official

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The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has announced that the annual Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder) military exercises between the Philippines and the United States will take place in April 2023. This year’s drills are expected to be larger in scale compared to previous years, involving more key locations across the country.

Colonel Francel Margareth Padilla, AFP spokesman, confirmed the upcoming exercises during a briefing at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City. While he did not disclose the exact number of troops and assets participating in the 39th iteration of Balikatan, it is anticipated to surpass the 17,600 troops who took part in last year’s exercises, making it the largest since its inception in the 1990s.

The Balikatan drills serve as a platform to enhance the interoperability and cooperation between Filipino and US forces in addressing various external threats. It allows both militaries to train together, exchange knowledge and expertise, and strengthen their capabilities to respond effectively to regional security challenges.

In recent years, the Balikatan exercises have showcased the commitment of both nations to maintaining a strong defense partnership. The drills have been held in different locations throughout the Philippines, including Palawan, Subic, Zambales, and Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija. These venues have provided suitable environments for maritime and artillery firing activities, enabling participants to hone their skills in realistic scenarios.

One notable event during the 2023 Balikatan exercises will be the sinking of a decommissioned Philippine Navy ship during a live fire training at the coastline of Subic, Zambales. This demonstration serves multiple purposes, including testing the effectiveness of naval weaponry and tactics, as well as promoting the safe and responsible disposal of decommissioned vessels.

The significance of the Balikatan exercises extends beyond the military realm. It also reinforces the strong alliance and mutual defense commitment between the Philippines and the United States. These exercises demonstrate the shared values and interests of both countries in upholding regional stability and security.

Moreover, the Balikatan exercises contribute to the professional development of the AFP personnel, exposing them to advanced training methods and technologies employed by the US military. This exposure enhances their operational readiness and broadens their understanding of modern warfare techniques, enabling them to better protect the nation and its interests.

As the 2023 Balikatan exercises approach, the AFP and the US military will continue to coordinate closely to finalize the participating units and the specific locations where the drills will be conducted. This meticulous planning ensures that the exercises are conducted safely and efficiently, maximizing the benefits and learning opportunities for all involved.

In conclusion, the upcoming Balikatan exercises between the Philippines and the United States in April 2023 will be a significant event, surpassing the scale of previous years. These exercises serve as a testament to the strong defense partnership between the two nations and aim to enhance the interoperability and capabilities of their respective armed forces. By training together and sharing expertise, Filipino and US troops will be better equipped to respond to external threats and contribute to regional security and stability.

Source: The Manila Times

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