Balikatan 2021 includes close air support, maritime security trainings

This year’s United States-Philippines Balikatan, the 36th iteration, includes bilateral staff exercise, close air support training, subject matter exchanges, maritime security training, and humanitarian and civic assistance activities.

Trainings and activities will be held in areas within the Northern Luzon Command and Southern Luzon Command. The joint military exercise will be conducted under strict observance to health protocol due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Balikatan Exercise, since its launching in 1991, has been a treasure trove of learning opportunities for both Filipino and American soldiers and in recent years would also include our other allies here in the Indo-Pacific region,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief-of-Staff General Cirilito Sobejana said at the opening ceremony of BK36-2021 at the GHQ Canopy in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

The AFP said that as part of the humanitarian and civic assistance activities, Filipino and American service members are building two classrooms and a daycare center in Plaridel, Bulacan Province, as well as a classroom in Atimonan and health center in Mauban, both in Quezon Province.

“Though this year’s exercises are toned down because of the prevailing health crisis, which has affected not only the Philippines, but similarly the entire world – these circumstances, will however, not diminish nor hamper the real intent of the Balikatan Exercises – that is to foster a stronger and more robust military relationship, and interoperability between our two Armed Forces,” said General Sobejana.