THE United States and the Philippines armed forces on Thursday ended this year’s Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder) joint military war games a highlight of which was the general-exercise scenario that focused on territorial defense.
The 10-day expanded war games accomplished three major activities–command post exercise, field training exercise and different humanitarian civic assistance activities and projects depicting stabilization operations in a post-conflict environment.
“These major events along with the completing support activities such as the science, technology and experimentation, the freedom banner logistics and the combined air operations exercises have enhanced training capacities of the participating forces,” said Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez, Balikatan 15 Exercise Director.
The general-exercise scenario involved command actions to address a national invading force that has occupied and controlled an island in the country.
It aimed to validate a defense plan of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command (Westcom), utilizing the joint force elements at its disposal.
Some of the military exercises were held on the central island of Palawan, which is near disputed territories in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).
This year’s war games involved 6,656 US soldiers, 5,023 personnel of the AFP and 61 soldiers from the Australian Defense Forces (ADF).
In the Command Post Exercise (CPX), the scenario focused on Marine Security (MARSEC) with Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise (CALFEX) to demonstrate the capability of the AFP National Maneuver Force.
Select US and ADF staff members formed a Joint Liaison Group (JLG) to support the capability development at each staff.
“These overarching scenario was further amplified by 56 field training exercise events scene on various joint and combined operations on the land, sea and air components that depicted the capabilities of the participating forces to accomplish the mission, most significant of which was the amphibious assault where we witnessed not only the immense military capability of the 21 amphibious assault vehicles or AAVs but also the great potentials of these military assets of delivering the much needed help for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations coming from the sea,” Lopez said.
On post-conflict actions, humanitarian civic assistance activities such as community health engagements, community relations and engineering civic action projects were conducted in the provinces of Palawan and Panay Island where five two-classroom buildings were built.
“In an overall picture, we have attained an enhanced capacity, capability and inter-operability in a joint and combined environment especially for the AFP, more so the existing relationships between the Philippines and US and Australian forces have been greatly enhanced, where more or better friendly bonds among brothers in arms were fostered, as well as with the local populace,” Lopez said.