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Forces prepare for Exercise Balikatan 2006

2/15/2006 - CLARKFIELD, Republic of the Philippines  -- U.S. servicemembers and Armed Forces of the Philippines are in the final week of preparations for Exercise Balikatan 2006, the 22nd annual bilateral combined exercise, scheduled Feb. 20 to March 5.

The exercise will be conducted in three phases: humanitarian and civic assistance on the island of Jolo in Sulu, a combined task force staff exercise in Cebu and cross training and field training exercises in Luzon.

Approximately 5,500 U.S. personnel and approximately 2,800 Armed Forces of the Philippines, or AFP, personnel will participate.

Approximately 400 exercise participants will be in Jolo for 11 engineering and medical civic action projects. They will work with the AFP and local volunteers to construct new school buildings and provide medical, dental and veterinarian services to the island’s residents.

The exercise is one of the 37 joint U.S.-Philippine military exercises planned during fiscal year 2006. Such exercises provide opportunities for training, humanitarian assistance projects, information-sharing and other activities that benefit the national security interests of both the U.S. and the Philippines, officials said.

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