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3rd Bde., 2nd Inf. Div. ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ with allies

3rd Bde., 2nd inf. Div. Public Affairs

Published: 03:50PM May 22nd, 2014

Soldiers of 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division returned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord from the Philippines Sunday after the successful completion of a three-week multinational, joint forces exercise with Soldiers from the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

While in the Philippines, leaders from the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment provided the AFP to subject-matter expertise that enabled Filipino Soldiers from the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region headquarters to execute a joint, combined arms, live-fire training event, said Lt. Col. Jarett Broemmel, the commander for 2-3 Inf. “Patriots” and OIC of the “Arrowhead” Brigade’s Task Force Balikatan.

Exercise Balikatan 2014 took place May 5 to 16 on the island of Luzon, Republic of the Philippines. This is the second consecutive year the annual bilateral exercise has teamed up members from 3rd Bde., 2nd Inf. Div. with Filipino service members from the JTF-NCR.

The exercise required AFP and Arrowhead staff members conducted a bilateral, scenario-based planning exercise at Camp Aguinaldo in Luzon, which included two days of academics and two days of crisis-action planning. The tabletop exercise schedule was followed by seven days of STAFFEX simulation-supported, scenario-based training.

The STAFFEX at Camp Aguinaldo, in Manila, was in advance of a combined live-fire exercise at Crow Valley Gunnery Range, near Clark Air Base, that showcased Philippine, American and Australian armed forces operating together in concert to achieve a common objective.

In the live-fire scenario, service members from throughout the AFP simultaneously stormed objectives by air and land, using multinational rotary wing support, indirect fire, close air support and ground forces.

The Patriot Battalion team and the AFP guided the JTF Headquarters in executing the live-fire training event, Broemmel said.

Though the focus of the exercise is on the Philippine-U.S. partnership and commitment to the mutual defense treaty, it is also in keeping with the regionally aligned mission of the Arrowhead Brigade to prevent war by partnering with nations within the Pacific region.

“By participating in the Balikatan Exercise these last two years, the Arrowhead Brigade has developed greater insight into the regional security challenges in the eastern Pacific and has also reinforced the partnership between the US Army and a longtime regional ally,” Broemmel said.

Partnering takes the form of military-to-military training, providing disaster relief and humanitarian assistance, sharing intelligence and interoperability. It also includes “engagements and interactions between us, our allies and partners — and even potentially our adversaries,” said Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, commander, U.S. Army Forces Command, during a forum on regionally aligned forces last year.

Soldiers from 3rd Bde., 2nd Inf. Div., have been aligned with Pacific Command since last year, conducting training exercises with allies from Australia, Japan and the Philippines in recent months. These exercises help the brigade maintain relationships with their RAF allies like the Philippines.

“It’s all about relationships,” said Capt. Cory Kastl, the assistant operations officer, 2-3 Inf. “Balikatan is really about a joint partnership between two allied nations. Whether you’re doing a live-fire or STAFFEX, if you’re partnering with a foreign army you’re building relationships you’re always going to have.”

Exercise Balikatan 2014 was the 30th iteration of the exercise, intended to promote regional peace and security by ensuring the interoperability and readiness of Philippine and U.S. forces. “Balikatan” is a Filipino term that means “shoulder-to-shoulder” and characterizes the spirit of the exercise, focusing on Philippine-U.S. partnership and commitment to the mutual defense treaty.

This year’s exercise comes in the wake of President Obama’s visit to the Philippines last week, in which he confirmed that “at the invitation of the Philippines, American service members will rotate through Filipino facilities.”

Both countries have expressed a desire to foster their partnership based on sustained U.S.-Philippine military cooperation and friendship.

“The Balikatan 2014 once again proved that the enduring alliance between the Philippines and the United States is a pillar for peace in Southeast Asia and the greater Asia Pacific,” said AFP Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, at the closing ceremony of the Balikatan 2014 in Camp Aguinaldo May 16.