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Monday, June 17, 2024

Rewarding Balikatan 2024

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IN THE main, the annual military exercises Balikatan between the Philippines and the United States involving more than 16,000 troops, which officially ended May 10, have been successful.

The 19-day exercises, which began on April 22, have strengthened interoperability and cooperation between the two allies through joint training, exercises and humanitarian assistance, and enhanced military cooperation and readiness between their armed forces.

The Balikatan exercises directly support the US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty by ensuring the forces are tactically proficient, that capabilities and modernization efforts are mutually compatible, by strengthening military-to-military coordination.

During Balikatan, three C-130Js were dispatched to different locations from the Andersen Air Force Base in Guam to help strengthen interoperability and cooperation, which demonstrated the ability to rapidly deploy a Marine unit into a remote island location and immediately offloaded thousands of gallons of fuel.

Not only did this assist the Joint Force in commencing operations, but eliminated the requirement for ships to bring fuel into a port.

One C-130J departed from Guam flying directly to Lal-Lo Airfield in Cagayan, then moved the unit and fuel to Basco Airfield on Batan Island up north, 238 miles or 383 kms from Taiwan, setting a record for the largest aircraft to ever land at the airfield.

The other aircraft staged out of Kadena Air Base, Japan, transported fuel directly into the small island.

In Basco, the Marines set up Specialized Fueling Operations at Forward Area Refueling Points, which serve as key refueling sites near the front lines or in forward operating areas.

During the last week, Philippine and US troops, opens new tab fired missiles and artillery to thwart a simulated invasion in the Philippines’ northern waters facing Taiwan in a show of military force and strengthening ties as regional tensions rise.

About 200 soldiers took turns defending the shores of the provincial coastal city of Laoag in Ilocos Norte, launching Javelin missiles and firing howitzers and machine guns to repel an unnamed enemy trying to storm the beach.

US and Filipino military personnel sank five floating pontoons standing in for amphibious landing ships as part of their annual exercises.

The exercises have irked China, which has warned of destabilization when countries outside the region “flex muscles and stoke confrontation.”

But China itself has not stopped its coast guard vessels and militia to harass Philippine vessels during clearly humanitarian reasons, and only last week, Manila accused Beijing of using water cannons against Filipino vessels around the disputed Scarborough Shoal, which damaged naval vessels and injured people onboard.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr has said the Philippines would not retaliate in kind, saying the Philippines did not want to raise tensions.


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