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Balikatan 2013

Balikatan Exercises Returns in the Philippines

The Philippines-United States Balikatan Exercises return in the country, with 8,000 troops participating.

This year’s Balikatan is said to focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster response.


The annual exercise is being conducted based on the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty between the Philippines and US which is meant to improve the interoperability of both forces in times of traditional and non-traditional threats.


The joint military training of the two countries will be scheduled on April 5 to April 17 in in Central Luzon.


The field training exercises will be held at Camp O’Donnell and Crow Valley in Tarlac, Subic Bay in Zambales, and Fort Magsaysay.


US military deployed 32 aircraft, including 12 fighter jets or the F/A-18 Hornets, and a US ship or the USS Tortuga to be used in the said training.


Aircrafts will be arriving in Clark, Pampanga in the upcoming days, while the ship had arrived April 1 in Manila Bay.


Officials said the deployment of the F-18s has nothing to do with the tension between South and North Korea.


The F-18 “Hornets” are twin-engine supersonic, all-weather carrier-capable fighter jets, designed to attack ground targets which have been used by the US Navy as demonstration aircraft since 1986.


The Philippine military will use nine of its aircraft from the Philippine Air Force for support to the Filipino and American troops, while the Philippine Navy will deploy one of its Islanders and two vessels.


Attendees of the opening ceremonies include Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, U.S. Ambassador Harry K. Thomas, AFP Chief of Staff General Emmanuel Baustista, AFP Command and General Staff College Commandant Maj. Gen. Virgilio Domingo, and U.S. Exercise Director Brig. Gen. Richard Simcock II.


Again, this year’s Balikatan Exercise prompted protests and doubts to some militant groups in the country questioning the arrival of the U.S. military and the real intention of exercise.

Corabelle is the Bayanihan's Phillippine News Correspondent.