AFP expects ‘bigger, more diverse' Balikatan in April

By Priam Nepomuceno

January 30, 2024, 4:45 pm

<p><em>(File photo courtesy of Philippine Army)</em></p>

(File photo courtesy of Philippine Army)

MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday said this year's iteration of the "Balikatan" military exercises with the United States will be longer and more diverse.

“The difference now and last year's 'Balikatan' is we are going to have more exercises in key positions all over the country. Aside from quantity we will heavily lean on towards quality training," AFP spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla said in a press conference at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

She said the number of Filipino and American soldiers have yet to be determined along with the equipment that will be used in the annual military exercises along with possible locations.

Last year's "Balikatan" consisted of 17,767 soldiers -- 12,187 Americans; 5, 469 Filipinos; and 111 Australians.

During last year's iteration, Filipino and American troops conducted the first ever sinking exercise (SINKEX) off San Antonio, Zambales where a decommissioned World War II corvette was sunk jointly.

"Aside from kinetic activities and littoral airspace and landscape, we will also be doing exercises in the non-physical domain such as cyberspace and information warfare," Padilla said. (PNA)