The 34th iteration of the two-week “Balikatan” military exercises between American and Filipino troops will formally start Monday.
The annual maneuvers will kick off with an opening ceremony at the Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters in Quezon City while the closing ceremony is slated May 18.
This year’s exercises will focus again on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counter-terrorism and mutual defense, Lt. Liezl M. Vidallon, “Balikatan 2018” public information officer said.
She earlier stressed that all Balikatan exercises will be confined to the Northern Luzon Command area-of-operations which includes provinces located in Northern and Central Luzon.
Number of participating American and Filipino troops will be announced later, Vidallon added.
Balikatan is the annual military exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and United States Pacific Command.
“Throughout (the) Balikatan (exercises) Philippines and US forces will be working shoulder to shoulder in information exchanges and live training events. This will enhance both forces’ interoperability in planning and execution of joints and combines operations to advance regional security cooperation and collaborative actions in addressing security concerns,” Vidallon noted.
In last year’s Balikatan exercises, around 2,800 Filipino soldiers, 2,600 Americans and 80 members of the Australian Defense Forces and 20 from the Japan Self Defense Force participated in the series of military maneuvers from May 8 to 18.
Highlights of last year’s exercises are the urban search-and-rescue and collapsed structures exercises which were conducted at Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City, in Nueva Ecija.
The former involves rescue methods for individuals trapped in collapsed structures, a common occurrence in massive earthquakes. PNA