Balikatan 34 Strengthens U.S.-Philippine Alliance through Rigorous Training

From left, Armed Forces of the Philippines Lt. Gen. Emmanuel B. Salamat, commander, AFP Northern Luzon Command; Undersecretary Cardozo M. Luna, Philippine Undersecretary of National Defense; Mr. Michael S. Klecheski, U.S. Embassy Charge d’ Affaires; AFP Gen. Carlito G. Galvez Jr., chief of staff, AF

From left, Armed Forces of the Philippines Lt. Gen. Emmanuel B. Salamat, commander, AFP Northern Luzon Command; Undersecretary Cardozo M. Luna, Philippine Undersecretary of National Defense; Mr. Michael S. Klecheski, U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires; AFP Gen. Carlito G. Galvez Jr., chief of staff, AFP and U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Thomas D. Weidley, commanding general, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, raise their arms while standing shoulder-to-shoulder during the Exercise Balikatan closing ceremony.

Manila, May 18, 2018 — After 12 days of training, approximately eight thousand service members from the U.S. military and Armed Forces of the Philippines completed this year’s Exercise Balikatan, resulting in increased interoperability and improved military skills.

Balikatan, in its 34th iteration, focused on counterterrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, as well as other combined military operations to ensure a more rapid response to natural disasters and manmade crises in the region.

The combined forces conducted a diverse range of training events, such as a combined arms live-fire exercise, an amphibious raid, close air support operations, artillery training, search and rescue operations, and small unit tactics operations.  These training events strengthen the U.S.-Philippine military partnership and ensure a more effective combined joint response in future operations.

In Northern Luzon, U.S., Philippine, Australian, and Japanese service members took part in five engineering projects to construct new school buildings, renovate existing structures, as well as take part in beautification projects.  They also conducted several health engagements by teaching the local community basic lifesaving skills, disease prevention strategies, as well as physical and dental hygiene.

Through Balikatan, the forces built upon a long and productive history of joint military exercises that enhance interoperability, strengthen partnerships, and improve disaster response and counterterrorism capabilities.