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Press and Photo Releases 2013

Exercise Balikatan 2013 Kicks Off at Camp Aquinaldo

MANILA, April 5, 2013 – Today marks the formal opening of Balikatan 2013, the 29th iteration of the largest Philippine-U.S. bilateral military exercise.  Ambassador Harry K. Thomas, Jr. joined Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert Del Rosario and Secretary of Defense Voltaire Gazmin, as well as Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Emmanuel Bautista, Major General Virgilio Domingo, the Philippine Balikatan Exercise Director, and Brigadier General Richard L. Simcock II, the U.S. Balikatan Exercise Director, at the opening ceremony in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

  More than 8,000 combined Philippine and U.S. personnel will participate in the exercise, which will take place at various locations throughout Luzon. The exercise will consist of humanitarian civic assistance projects, senior leader engagements, a command post exercise, field training exercises, and maritime security and ship drills to enhance Philippine-U.S. military interoperability and build military-to-military relations.

  During the opening ceremony, Ambassador Thomas noted the strong cooperation between the Philippine and U.S. militaries in the aftermath of super-typhoon Pablo four months ago.  “Through that tragedy, we saw the best of our partnership,” he said.  “Members of the U.S. Armed Forces were here in the Philippines planning for this Balikatan exercise when Pablo began its destruction.  Within seven hours of the request from the Philippine Government to assist with the typhoon relief, the first U.S. aircraft arrived here in Manila to begin rescue operations,” said Ambassador Thomas.

  Ambassador Thomas also highlighted the benefits of the many community service projects that take place under the umbrella of Balikatan.  He drew attention to a footbridge being built in San Narciso, Zambales that will allow 50 residents of Barangay San Pasqual to cross the river to attend school and sell goods at the market, whereas before the footbridge’s construction, they had to travel 40 minutes by road.

  “Shoulder-to-shoulder we stand together, ready to defend when necessary and assist when needed,” Ambassador Thomas said.

  Balikatan 2013 is hosted annually in the Philippines.  The exercise characterizes the longstanding Philippine-U.S. partnership, deeply rooted in cooperation and a shared commitment to the Mutual Defense Treaty.  

  Balikatan 2013 is scheduled to conclude on April 17.

  Media interested in covering this exercise should contact the Armed Forces of Philippines Public Affairs Office at paoafp@gmail.com.

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