A major international military exercise in the Philippines, jointly hosted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and US Indo-Pacific Command, has launched from Manila.
Exercise Balikatan 19 is designed to enhance regional military co-operation and interoperability during times of disaster or humanitarian crisis. This year’s focus is the ability to respond effectively to humanitarian and civic assistance events and security operations in south-east Asia.
The exercise also includes a range of military training and community relations activities, which involve Australian Defence Force Special Forces, medical, engineering, and chaplaincy personnel. This is the 36th year for Balikatan and the sixth year of the ADF actively participating.
Chief of Joint Operations, Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld said the Australian Defence Force’s ongoing support to the annual exercise underscores Australia’s commitment to regional security and stability.
"The exercise allows us to build our relationship with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the United States Indo-Pacific Command," AIRMSHL Hupfeld said.
"Through this partnership, we aim to increase our ability to co-ordinate a multilateral response to a disaster or humanitarian crisis in a complex and ever-evolving regional security environment."
Conducted on Luzon and Palawan islands, Exercise Balikatan focuses on delivering humanitarian civic assistance programs, role playing maritime security scenarios and conducting a field training exercise.
More than 60 ADF personnel from the Navy, Army, Air Force and Defence Science and Technology are taking part in the exercise.
Exercise Balikatan allows the ADF to further build its Defence ties and military-civilian co-ordination skills with the Philippines and US, as well as enhancing Asia-Pacific regional security and stability.
"The United States, the Philippines and Australia’s long-standing relationship has resulted in a significant and ongoing contribution to regional security," AIRMSHL Hupfeld said.
This year is the fifth time the ADF has participated in Exercise Balikatan. Exercise Balikatan 19 concludes on 12 April 2019.