Counter-terror drills also part of 'Balikatan 2018'

By Priam Nepomuceno

May 5, 2018, 3:26 pm

MANILA -- With terrorism now a global threat, this year's "Balikatan" exercises will pay special focus on counter-terrorism maneuvers that will be conducted through simulation training events.

"Scenario-based itong 'Balikatan', lalo na yung meron tayong (The 'Balikatan is scenario-based, with) simulation training events wherein yung mga planner, yung mga leadership natin, they were trying to command and control different forces for any eventuality," public information officer of “Balikatan 2018”, Lt. Liezl Vidallon, said in an interview late Thursday.

Aside from counter-terrorism, this year's exercises will focus on inter-operability of participating Filipino and American units.

Vidallon declined to give the exact numbers of participating US and Filipino troops pending the actual start of the exercises.

This year's “Balikatan” is the 34th iteration of the annual Philippine and American military exercises. It will formally start on May 7 and end on May 18.

Lessons learned from the previous "Balikatan" exercises will be incorporated in the various field exercises planned for this year.

In last year's “Balikatan”, some 2,800 Filipino soldiers, 2,600 American soldiers, 80 members of the Australian Defence Force, and 20 from the Japan Self-Defense Force joined the series of military maneuvers on May 8-18.

Highlights of last year's exercises were the urban search-and-rescue and collapsed structures exercises conducted in Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City, Nueva Ecija, which involved rescue methods for individuals trapped in collapsed buildings, a common occurrence in massive earthquakes. (PNA)