Balikatan 2012 officially begins
US Marine Corps News
4/20/2012 By Staff Sgt. Mike Mears, Marine Corps Bases Japan
CAMP AGUINALDO, MANILA, Philippines — Locked arm-in-arm, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the United States officially began Exercise Balikatan 2012 here April 16.
Balikatan, a Tagalog word meaning “shoulder-to-shoulder,” is an annual bilateral exercise on its 28th iteration and the third humanitarian assistance/disaster relief focused exercise between the two nations.
“Balikatan has been going on for a long time, for nearly 30 years,” said Brig. Gen. Frederick M. Padilla, 3rd Marine Division commanding general, Okinawa, Japan, and Exercise Balikatan director of U.S. forces. “Longer than that has been the relationship between the United States of America and the Republic of the Philippines. We are bounded by similar traditions, a shared history and common goals. While the nature of contingencies changes over time, our relationship remains.”
The primary purpose of the exercise is to improve interoperability with partner nations and prepare in case of disaster relief operations.
The exercise will contain three main components: a command post exercise in the national capital region including representatives from various countries and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations; field training exercises around the country involving more than 6,000 troops; and humanitarian civic assistance projects where teams will build five schools and provide medical and dental care to more than 22,000 people.
“In the next 10 days, as the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the U.S. execute their tasks pertaining to scheduled events for this year’s exercise, we hope to provide the Filipino and American public an inspiring and heartwarming chain of events,” said Philippine Navy Rear Adm. Victor Emmanuel C. Martir, Philippine exercise director. “Our armed forces continue to work together for a secure and stable Asia-Pacific region – (displaying) their awareness and responsiveness to the needs of our people and our neighbors.”
Those also in attendance at the ceremony were Patricia Paez, Philippine Assistant Secretary of Foreign Affairs; Harry K. Thomas, Jr., U.S. ambassador to the Philippines; and Philippine Army Gen. Jessie D. Dellosa, Armed Forces Philippines chief of staff.
BK ‘12 is scheduled to take place through April 27.
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