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4月9日のまにら新聞から

Balikatan drills ''not intended to any of our neighboring countries'': Centino

[ 819 words|2022.4.9|英字 (English) ]

As the Balikatan exercise formally ended on Friday, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Andres Centino said the annual Philippine and United States drill is intended to boost military capabilities and not intended '' to any of our neighboring countries.''

"The Balikatan exercise that we had was intended to improve our interoperability, improving our capability and considering that the exercise has been an annual exercise, we have done this in the past, for 37 times, a 36 times already and this is in no way intended to any of our neighboring countries," he said.

"It is meant to just improve our capabilities to use our unit-procured equipment and for the last two weeks we have this chance and opportunity to test them together with our American counterparts," he added.

Maj. Gen. Charlton Sean Gaerlan, Philippine exercise director, explained that the exercise is just a way of preparing for operability with their US counterpart which they can execute in case of an eruption of a real war.

"We're preparing for operability with our counterpart, so in the part of the Philippines all the assets that we are using and all the assets that we can use in the sides of the Philippines we need to exercise, so with that everything that is used for the defense especially for the Philippines is being exercised for this purpose and as you know when you always exercise you are able to really feel how things are happening so that when the real war erupt then we can be able to execute this plan effectively," he said.

"That's the purpose of exercise, we have to test if they are interoperable and we have yet to test our new equipment and that's why exercises are essential in making sure that this works hand in hand with other technology," Centino added.

Brig. Gen.Joseph Clearfield, US Exercise Director representative, also noted that this year's Balikatan exercise has "nothing to do with current events".

"This had nothing to do with current events. We were working on doctrines, capabilities and capacities that are joint force needs currently and in going forward in a way to deter aggressions but this was long planned a year ago before any sort of conflagration happened in Ukraine with Russia," he said.

In his speech, Centino said "the annual conduct of the balikatan exercise is one of our proactive measures in dealing with unprecedented and real world challenges."

"This exercise is a venue for us to test interoperability strategies and initiate innovations as we work and operate side by side or shoulder to shoulder. Furthermore this exercise effectively capacitates our armed forces as we fulfil our respective responsibilities in maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region," he said.

"It is noteworthy to say that this year's balikatan exercise enabled to showcase and test the new capabilities that we have acquired and developed in the past few years, like the new air assets that we have, such the Black Hawk and the Augusta Westland helicopters, the FA50 fighters, the Super Tucano and naval assets including our landing dock and the ground assets including the newly refurbished armored personnel carriers and artillery guns," said Centino.

"The exercise also enabled our key units like the first brigade combat team of the Philippine Army to train and test interoperability at the tactical level. I am sure that both armed forces have mutually benefited with you learning from our experiences in dealing with insurgents and terrorists and us learning from your skills in the use of modern technology," he added.

The 37th Balikatan Exercise was participated by nearly 9,000 Filipino and American soldiers.

The drills were held from the northern coast of Luzon to Palawan over the last two weeks, focusing on maritime security, amphibious operations, live-fire training, urban operations, aviation operations, counterterrorism, and humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

During the exercises, Philippine and US forces employed more than 50 aircraft, four ships, 10 amphibious craft, four High Mobility Artillery Rocket System launchers, and four Patriot missile systems during Balikatan 22. This year’s exercise also included approximately 40 personnel from the Australian Defense Force.

As part of the drill the AFP and US exercise forces executed the combined arms live fire exercise in Tarlac through ground maneuver, artillery, mortars, and air elements aimed at enhancing joint and combined interoperability and partner capacity during a crisis.

The amphibious exercise was also held in Cagayan which strengthened the troops' ability to conduct and develop interoperability in amphibious operations.

The AFP and US military also conducted multiple humanitarian and civic assistance projects, including the renovation of four elementary schools, multiple community health engagements, and the exchange of advanced emergency rescue and lifesaving techniques.

The AFP noted that "these construction projects, health engagements, and community relations events improved local infrastructure, facilitated the exchange of lifesaving medical skills, and strengthened ties between local communities and Philippine and American military forces." Robina Asido/DMS