"Shouldering the Load Together"
The 2006 Balikatan exercise was to be conducted in 3 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 US personnel and approximately 2,800 Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) personnel participated.
Approximately 400 exercise participants were in Jolo for 11 engineering and medical civic action projects. They worked 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 was one of the 37 joint US-Philippine military exercises planned during fiscal year 2006. Such exercises provided opportunities for training, humanitarian assistance projects, information-sharing and other activities that benefit the national security interests of both the US and the Philippines.
Exercise Balikatan 2006 commenced on 20 February 2006 at Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo. Although the 17 February 2006 mudslide in Leyte, Philippines, caused more than 1,500 U.S. troops to divert in support of the relief efforts, more than 3,500 U.S. service members were still working to ensure Balikatan was successful during its 22nd evolution, according to US Marine Brigadier General Mastin M. Robeson, commander, Joint Task Force Balikatan 2006 and deputy commander, combined task force.
One of several civil action programs that took place during Exercise Balikatan 2006 included having Armed Forces of the Philippines engineers and Airmen work at a construction site of a three-room school, an addition to the existing Sulu High School.
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