PHL and US to hold ‘largest-ever’ Balikatan exercise starting Friday   

CLOSE to 9,000 Filipino and American troops will participate in this year’s Balikatan, which the military said, would be the “largest-ever” iteration of the exercise.

Balikatan is the biggest bilateral military exercise between the United States and the Philippines, which for the past years, has also been joined by allies that include Japan and Australia.

At least 3,800 Filipino soldiers and 5,100 US servicemen will participate in the two-week war games, which will officially begin on Friday.

The exercise will focus on maritime security, amphibious operations, live-fire training, urban operations, aviation operations, counterterrorism and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

“During Balikatan, the US military and AFP will train together to expand and advance shared tactics, techniques, and procedures that strengthen our response capabilities and readiness for real-world challenges,” said Maj. Gen. Jay Bargeron, commander of the US’s 3rd Marine Division.

The military said the training will also include command post exercise that will test the ability of both forces to plan, command, and communicate with each other in a simulated environment.

“The experience gained in the exercise complements our security cooperation endeavors and will help to enhance existing mutual security efforts,” said exercise co-director Major Gen. Charlton Sean Gaerlan.

The military training, which will be conducted across Luzon, “coincides with the 75th anniversary of US-Philippine security cooperation,” according to Bargeron.