US-Philippine Exercise Balikatan Concludes

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The 37th  iteration of bilateral Exercise Balikatan between the United States and Philippines concluded after two weeks rigorous drills. The year, the exercise saw the participation of nearly 9,000 personnel, which trained together at from the northern coast of Luzon to Palawan, focusing on maritime security, amphibious operations, live-fire training, urban operations, aviation operations, counterterrorism, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. This year’s exercise also included approximately 40 personnel from the Australian Defence Force.

The series of drills saw the deployment of  more than 50 aircraft, four ships, 10 amphibious craft, four HIMARS rocket system launchers, and four Patriot missile systems.

During Balikatan 22, US Army Patriot missile systems were employed in amphibious operations in the Philippines for the first time. The exercise also saw the inaugural deployment of the US Marine Corps’ 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment (3d MLR), which was established in Hawaii on March 3.

AFP and US forces experimented with sensors and fire support, and used expeditionary advanced bases (EABs) as the framework for an integrated coastal defense. Over the course of eight days, the 3d MLR partnered with the Philippine Marine Corps Coastal Defense Regiment and provided command and control over multiple EABs across northern Luzon. This coastal defense was further enhanced by two Patriot Missile Batteries from the US Army’s 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defence Artillery Regiment and HIMARS rocket system from 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines.

The US Navy and Philippine Navy played key roles providing sealift and off-shore support.

Balikatan, Tagalog for “shoulder-to-shoulder,” is a longstanding bilateral exercise highlighting the deep-rooted partnership between the Philippines and the United States.-shp/adj/aaa (Image: USMC)