'Balikatan' intensifies AFP capabilities to defend territory

By Priam Nepomuceno

April 4, 2024, 6:10 pm

<p>"Balikatan" 2024 executive agent Col. Michael Logico <em>(PNA file photo by Priam F. Nepomuceno)</em></p>

"Balikatan" 2024 executive agent Col. Michael Logico (PNA file photo by Priam F. Nepomuceno)

MANILA – This year's "Balikatan" military exercises with the US forces will showcase the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) capabilities as it shifts towards the so-called "Comprehensive Archipelagic Defense Concept" (CADC) or the strategy that aims to defend the country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

"This 'Balikatan' will be a showcase of our capabilities in performing our mandate in accordance with the CADC na bagong nilabas na ng (recently issued by the) Department of National Defense (DND), so that means that our exercises, our defense concepts have to go beyond 12 nautical miles for us to protect our national interest within our territory, within our territorial waters and also within the EEZ," the exercises’ executive agent Col. Michael Logico said in an interview over radio station DZBB Thursday.

Logico said the objective of the "Balikatan" exercise is to ensure that both Filipino and American troops understand each other's doctrines and capabilities.

"(And) when the time comes that we have to go to work together, we will be very confident in the capabilities of our treaty allies," he said.

Logico said the equipment, acquired in the ongoing AFP Modernization Program, will be utilized in this year's "Balikatan".

"So once again, we will see the participation of our anti-submarine warfare capabilities, our anti-air, or anti-missile capabilities also, kasama na dyan yung (this also includes our) ground self-propelled artillery, yung (and) our aviation assets," he added.

The CADC aims to develop the country's capability to protect its entire territory, including its EEZ, to ensure that the next generation of Filipinos will be able to enjoy its natural resources.

"In plain language, we are developing our capability to protect and secure our entire territory and EEZ in order to ensure that our people and all the generations of Filipinos to come shall freely reap and enjoy the bounties of the natural resources that are rightfully ours within our domain," DND Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. earlier said.

This year's "Balikatan" will take place from April 22 to May 8.

Some 11,000 American soldiers and support personnel are expected to participate in the annual military exercise along with 5,000 Filipino troops.

Aside from the United States, other participants in this year's "Balikatan" include the Australian Defense Force and the French Navy who will be deploying one frigate.

Logico said 14 countries will be sending military observers to witness this year's "Balikatan".

These countries include Japan, South Korea, India, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Germany and New Zealand. (PNA)