Philippines, US begin largest military games
MANILA, Philippines — Filipino and American troops on Monday kicked off their biggest joint military games – the 37th Balikatan Exercise.
A total of 8,900 military personnel — 3,800 from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and 5,100 from the US military — will participate in the military games which will be conducted in various parts of the country.
According to US Exercise Director Maj. Gen. Jay Bargeron during the opening ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, the exercise reaffirms the two countries’ commitment to each other under the Mutual Defense Treaty and helps both “develop interoperability and maintain readiness as allies.”
This year’s Balikatan, as explained by the AFP, is specifically designed to enhance force capability and strengthen cooperation in maritime security, amphibious operations, live-fire training, urban operations, aviation operations, counterterrorism, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
“Undoubtedly, these activities will positively impact our force readiness and strengthen our robust alliance,” said Maj. Gen. Charlton Gaerlan, Philippine Exercise Director and Commander of AFP Education.
On the other hand, AFP Chief of Staff General Andres Centino encouraged the participants to make the most of the opportunities in this year’s military exercises.
“I urge all the Filipino and American soldiers who are taking part in this year’s Balikatan Exercise to embody professionalism, excellence, and camaraderie as we maximize the opportunities offered to us in this event,” said Centino.
“I am confident that both of our Armed Forces shall reap immense benefits from this exercise as we continue to pursue our shared goals of regional peace, security, and stability,” he added.
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