Delegates link arms during the opening ceremony of the Balikatan Exercises between the Philippines and the United States in Quezon City, the Philippines, May 8, 2017. Troops from Australia and Japan will participate in the annual joint exercises between U.S. and Philippine militaries that will officially kick off on Monday, a Philippine military spokesman said on Sunday. 2,600 U.S. troops and 2,800 Philippine troops will participate in this year's drills, adding that 80 soldiers from Australia and 20 from Japan will also participate in the exercises. (Xinhua/Rouelle Umali)
MANILA, May 8 (Xinhua) -- This year's Balikatan exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and United States forces formally commenced on Monday, focusing on humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and counterterrorism.
Maj. Celeste Sayson, said, the Balikatan exercise will feature only 5,400 troops from both sides, or 5,600 personnel less compared to last year's activity, owing to its refocusing to humanitarian assistance, disaster response (HADR) and counterterrorism.
Balikatan or "shoulder-to-shoulder" is a comprehensive joint military exercise between the U.S. and its treaty ally, the Philippines.
AFP Central Command chief Lt. Gen. Oscar Lactao, Balikatan exercise director on the Philippine side, said, there is an exercising scenario that a super typhoon hits the Philippines and the armed forces will respond.
According to the Philippine forces, a number of sea and air assets from the Philippine military will be utilized for the Balikatan, including brand new Strategic Sealift Vessel BRP Tarlac of the Navy and C-130 cargo planes of the Air Force.