Balikatan 2019 focuses on territorial defense, counter-terrorism

United States-Philippines bilateral military exercise Balikatan 2019 has scaled-up exercises, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief-of Staff General Benjamin Madrigal Jr. said on April 1.

“Balikatan 35-2019 have scaled up exercises, meaning more focus on the area of territorial defense and counter-terrorism operations. It is our primary goal that the exercise outcome would be beneficial for everyone,” the top AFP official said.

“In the conduct of our four major events, the staff exercise and command post exercise, joint inter-operability events, combined operability events and humanitarian civic assistance events, much shall be learned in enhancing our full spectrum of capabilities,” he added.

He said that Balikatan 2019 aims to enhance the inter-operability of Philippines and United States forces in joint and combined operations and to project a posture of readiness to combat any security threat.

“[I]t serves as a platform when we could exchange our best practices in various military operations, a venue where we could validate our defense plans and an opportunity where we could amplify our alliances with other participating countries,” he added.

“All of us understand how threats on security constantly evolve, including the non-traditional security challenges at present. As we have this year’s Balikatan, we will shoulder the load together to prepare for these scenarios and should a crisis or national disaster occur in the future we will be ready,” General Madrigal said.

Approximately 4,000 Filipinos, 3, 500 American and 50 Australian troops are participating in Balikatan 2019 from April 1 to 12.