Monday, April 20, 2015

PH-US Balikatan 2015 aims Peace and Security in Asia Pacific Region

Photo from Exercise Balikatan FB Page
MANILA, Philippines- The Philippines-US Balikatan 2015 Military Exercises has formally opened; aiming to maintain security and peace in the Asia Pacific region.

The Balikatan 2015 is the largest Balikatan Exercise to be participated by 11,000 Filipino and American soldiers programmed until April 30, 2015.

According to AFP Chief Of Staff Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr., the increase in the number of participants this year compared to the previous years does not aim to spread terror or provocative actions on the maritime dispute at West Philippine Sea.

Its primary aim is still to improve the capability and capacity of the Armed Forces of the Philippines; as part of the AFP modernization program and the Mutual Defense Treaty between the Philippines and the United States.

"I think the Americans would like a bigger exercise. We believe it will help a lot because the more troops given a chance to participate, the more useful to the Armed Forces of the Philippines."said the AFP Chief

According to Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez, Exercise Director of Balikatan 2015(AFP), the exercise is not limited to field trainings only.

There will be humanitarian and community projects through the 10 days of bilateral exercises apart from field trainings to be held in Panay and Palawan.

"The exercise also showcases 56 civil military operation activities such as engineering civic action projects with an estimated 10,000 indirect beneficiaries and a civil assistance and community health engagements." He added

US Ambassador Philip Goldberg expressed that through this bilateral exercises, current challenges being faced by the Asia Pacific region will be solved.

"It's about preparing to confront emerging challenges across the Asia Pacific Region. What we do in Balikatan is not aimed at any country or any group of countries." He said

He also added that the U.S., the Philippines, and other countries in Asia aim to maintain the freedom of aviation and navigation as well as the diplomacy in Asia Pacific region.

Also participating in the Balikatan Exercises are the Australian Defense Force and some representatives from Asia that are invited as international observers namely Brunei, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste and Vietnam.

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