"Shouldering the Load Together"
From the Initial and Final Planning Conferences to the actual execution of the exercise, the Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) was given less than 5 months to fully plan the combined bilateral exercise with their Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) counterparts. Clear strategic vision and mission-oriented guidance from the Co-Exercise Director Brigadier General Kenneth Glueck, commanding general, 3rd MEB, allowed the staff to devise and execute a plan that fully employed the MEB's expeditionary capabilities.
The deployment of personnel and equipment to the Philippines was accomplished through various means of transportation that included commercial shipping and aircraft, military aircraft and the WestPac Express, a leased high speed vessel. A command and control challenge for the MEB was that 2004's Balikatan exercise was not held in one central location, but spread throughout the Philippines. The CTF staff operated out of 2 locations that were approximately 400 miles apart. The CTF headquarters was located at AFP's Western Command in Puerto Princesa on the island of Palawan where civil-military operations projects and the Staff Seminar/Command Post Exercise were conducted. The CTF Forward was located in Central Luzon where amphibious training, live fire training and air operations occurred.
The US-AFP Civil-Military Operations Task Force conducted 12 Civic Action Projects and provided more than 24,000 residents with medical, dental, and veterinary care. Engineering Civic Action Projects were also conducted to include the construction of a water well and water tank, refurbishing of the Puerto Princesa City Health Office and building of 5 school classrooms. Also, for the first time, Civil-Military operators were able to provided medical services to more than 2,100 residents of Basco, Batanes, which the US military uses as an aircraft refueling location.
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