MANILA, Philippines United States forces from the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, arrived in Manila last week in advance of the commencement of Balikatan 2014. During Balikatan 2014, U.S. service members from 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment will work alongside counterparts from the Armed Forces of the Philippines to assist in refining staff leading skills as part of the annual exercise.
According to the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Balikatan is an annual Republic of the Philippines-U.S. military bilateral training exercise and humanitarian assistance engagement.
This years event, which began Monday and runs until May 16, is not the first time the Arrowhead Brigade has teamed up with the AFP.
Were excited to be here to build on the training and rapport built by the Arrowhead Team in Balikatan 2013, said Maj. John Hawbaker, the executive officer of 2-3 Inf., which is in the Philippines at the behest of the brigades commanding officer, Col. Hugh D. Bair. The Filipino (Joint Task Force) staff, U.S. Marines, and the Arrowhead Team are already working together to set the conditions for continued success throughout the exercise.
This years Balikatan exercise comes in the wake of President Barack Obamas visit to the Philippines earlier this week where he affirmed that at the invitation of the Philippines, American service members will rotate through Filipino facilities.
Our training partnership will further develop the capabilities of the Philippine armed forces to respond to contingencies involving territorial defense, said Lt. Col. Jarett Broemmel, 2-3 Inf. commander and officer in charge of the Arrowhead Brigades Task Force Balikatan. In addition, our work with crisis action planning will benefit our partners with future operations requiring disaster response, humanitarian aid and the like.
Patriot Soldiers from 2-3 Inf. will conduct a combined staff exercise at Camp Aguinaldo, in Manila, and observe field training at Fort Magsaysay, to improve their interoperability and contingency planning with AFP troops.
As a member of the Arrowhead Brigade, the Patriot Battalion team that is partnered with the AFP will also provide subject matter expertise to the (Joint Task Force headquarters) executing the upcoming joint, combined arms, live-fire training event, Broemmel said.
Exercise Balikatan 2014 is the 30th iteration of the exercise and is intended to promote regional peace and security by ensuring the interoperability and readiness of Philippine and U.S. forces. The word Balikatan means shoulder-to-shoulder in Tagalog, one of several native Filipino languages, and characterizes the spirit of the bilateral Philippines-U.S. exercise.