Some 8,900 military personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the United States Armed Forces will participate in the Balikatan 2022, the largest-ever iteration of the joint military drills that will take place across Luzon from March 28 to April 8.
Maj. Gen. Charlton Sean Gaerlan, exercise director of the PH-US Balikatan 2022, said some 3,800 Filipino soldiers and 5,100 US military personnel will train together in various areas of operation to enhance their interoperability.
“Exercise Balikatan is a testament to the strength of the Philippines and United States’ security relationship,” Gaerlan said.
“The experience gained in the exercise complements our security cooperation endeavors and will help to enhance existing mutual security efforts,” he added.
This year’s Balikatan will be a big bounce back compared to the scaled-down exercises last year where only 736 personnel from the AFP and 225 from the US military joined.
In 2020, the Balikatan drills had to be suspended due to the pandemic. Gaerlan said with the improved COVID-19 situation, both the Philippines and US military have decided to pursue the return of the drills.
The participating troops will conduct joint exercises in various areas of operation such as maritime security, amphibious operations, live-fire training, urban operations, aviation operations, counter-terrorism, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
The upcoming exercise also includes a command post exercise which will “test the AFP and US forces’ ability to plan, command, and communicate with each other in a simulated environment.”
The AFP and US military will also conduct multiple humanitarian and civic assistance projects during this year’s Balikatan such as the renovation of four elementary schools, multiple community health engagements, and exchange of advanced emergency rescue and lifesaving techniques.