The Australian Defence Force will take part in a major international military exercise in the Philippines to test its ability to effectively contribute to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Jointly hosted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and US Pacific Command, Exercise Balikatan 18 is designed to enhance regional military co-operation, interoperability and the participating nations’ ability to respond effectively during times of disaster or humanitarian crisis.
Chief of Joint Operations Vice Admiral David Johnston said the ADF’s ongoing support to the annual exercise is part of Australia’s commitment to regional security and stability.
"This exercise allows us to build on our already strong relationship with both the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the US military’s Pacific Command," VADM Johnston said.
"The word Balikatan translates as ‘shoulder to shoulder’ and that certainly characterises the spirit of this exercise."
Balikatan 18 includes a command post exercise, a humanitarian and disaster relief program as well as a range of military training activities. The exercise involves approximately 60 ADF personnel, a Royal Australian Air Force P-3 Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft and an Army contingent.
VADM Johnston said this was the 34th year Balikatan was staged and the fifth time the ADF was an active participant.
"The United States, the Philippines and Australia have a longstanding relationship dating back to WWII resulting in a significant, ongoing contribution to regional security," VADM Johnston said.
"Our recent support operations following natural disasters in Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Tonga demonstrate that regional co-operation during times of natural disaster is more important than ever.
"Exercise Balikatan 18 is a valuable opportunity for participating nations to prepare for real world challenges."
Exercise Balikatan 18 concludes on 20 May 2018.