"Shouldering the Load Together"
Exercise Balikatan 2001 was held from 26 April to 10 May 2001 in the Republic of the Philippines. The Republic of the Philippines and US military personnel from all branches of service, worked shoulder-to-shoulder in the heat and the rain, cross-trained in military operations such as air rescue, amphibious operations, close air support, small arms training, and staging support. They also built and renovated schools and provided much-needed dental, medical, and veterinary services for barangays near Clark International Airport. Barangays were basic Philippine political units for planning and implementing government policies, programs and activities in the community.
Balikatan 2001 provided joint/combined training to improve combat readiness against an external attack on the Philippines, as covered by the 1952 Mutual Defense Treaty between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States. Balikatan 2001 was part of the Exercise Team Challenge series. Designed as an umbrella exercise, Team Challenge's goal was to improve combat readiness and interoperability by tying together joint combined exercises with Thailand, Philippines, Singapore and other interested countries. Balikatan 2001 incorporated Team Challenge scenarios, such as training in peacekeeping, humanitarian and civic-assistance operations.
Balikatan 2001 was specifically designed to improve Republic of the Philippines-US armed forces combat readiness in joint and combined operations, and interoperability between RP and US services through the exchange of training skills and techniques. Balikatan 2001 specifically served as a base line concept and benchmark for future Balikatan exercises.
Balikatan 2001 was composed of 8 major events and several support activities. These events were seminar/workshop, cross training, field training exercises and civil military operations. Support activities included command and control, force protection and security operations, information and public affairs, protocol, personnel, medical and evacuation, logistics, communications, legal, engineering and exercise related constructions, and liaison.
Balikatan 2001 was conducted within the constraint of the available resources of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and US, consistent with the provisions, intent and spirit of the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement. The conduct of Balikatan 2001 was approved by the Republic of the Philippines-US Council of Foreign Ministers through the Mutual Defense Board Co-Chairmen, the Chief of Staff, AFP and the US Command in Chief, Pacific. For the year 2001, the exercise area was limited to the islands of Luzon and Palawan.
Balikatan 2001 began on 26 April 2001 with formal ceremonies at the General Headquarters of the AFP at Camp Aguinaldo. Philippine Vice President and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teofisto Guingona welcomed the American forces with these words, "Our relationship with the United States is borne out of longtime friendship and partnership that remains steadfast ...over 100 years. We are committed to a new page in Philippine-American relations - one founded on equality and mutual respect. We want to share better experiences, so that we can promote a more meaningful peace in the years ahead."
Exercise events began on 27 April 2001. Participants in a combined joint seminar, held between 27 April to 3 May 2001, addressed crisis-action planning followed by a practical exercise. They focused on peacekeeping and noncombatant evacuation operations in conformity with the Team Challenge concept. The various services of the 2 nations also began field training on 27 April 2001. The cross-training in various tactics, techniques and procedures represented the type of combined operations that would occur if the two nations were to work together in a contingency operation.
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