The annual Balikatan military exercise involving nearly 9,000 U.S. and Filipino troops has begun in the Philippines. The opening ceremony was held Monday in Quezon City, Luzon Island, and the exercise will continue through April 8.
Major General Jay Bargeron, commander of the 3rd Marine Division, said the current exercise is not a show of force in the region.
“Not at all,” he said in response to a related question. – “Balikatan 2022 is a terrific training opportunity; the exercise is designed to improve our security and defense capabilities and readiness to respond to any crisis anywhere. I would also say that the exercise is designed to increase our interoperability, enhance cooperation on all fronts and of course contribute to peace and stability in the region,” said Bargeron.
The two-week exercise will focus on maritime security, live-fire training, amphibious, urban and air operations, counterterrorism, and humanitarian and disaster relief. “Balikatan” also includes a command-staff exercise that tests the ability of the Philippine and U.S. Armed Forces to plan, command and communicate with each other in a simulated environment.
Exercise Balikatan is in its 37th year. Last year, because of the pandemic, it took place in a scaled-down format. This year, Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asian allies are serving as observers.