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39th Balikatan Exercise affirmation of joint vision for security and prosperity of nations – US Embassy Charge’ d’ Affaires Y. Robert Ewing
39th Balikatan Exercise affirmation of joint vision for security and prosperity of nations – US Embassy Charge’ d’ Affaires Y. Robert Ewing
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39th Balikatan Exercise affirmation of joint vision for security and prosperity of nations – US Embassy Charge’ d’ Affaires Y. Robert Ewing
by Karen Ow-Yong22 April 2024
Photo courtesy of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)

MANILA – The 39th iteration of Exercise Balikatan is an affirmation of the Philippines’ and the United States’ “shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific” and can advance the security and prosperity of both nations.

In his remarks during the opening ceremony of Exercise Balikatan 2024 in Quezon City, U.S. Embassy Charge’ d’ Affaires Y. Robert Ewing said that Balikatan represents more than just a showcase of military readiness but embodies the deep-rooted spirit of collaboration and partnership that has defined the enduring alliance between the United States and the Philippines for decades.

Ewing also mentioned about the people-to-people connections, which he calls the “backbone” of the deep friendship between the two countries.

An example of this is the chance of U.S. service members to experience Philippine culture, particularly that of Filipino-American service members, which offers a chance to reconnect with their heritage.

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The start of the Balikatan Exercises comes shortly after the historic trilateral meeting between the United States, Philippines and Japan held in Washington D.C.

Approximately 16,000 soldiers will be joining the exercises in a span of three weeks starting Monday until May 10, 2024, with 11,000 American service members and 5,000 Filipinos.

During Balikatan 2024, participants will execute a range of complex mission across domains, including maritime security, sensing, and targeting, air and missile defense, dynamic missile strikes, cyber defense, and information operations.

In a release from the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS), it also mentions the conduct of a Multilateral Maritime Exercise in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EZZ) by the Philippine Navy, U.S. Navy and the French Navy.

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Observers from Canada, South Korea, India, Germany, United Kingdom and Southeast Asia will be closely monitoring the activities as well.

“Exercise Balikatan directly supports the U.S.-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty by ensuring our forces are tactically proficient, that capabilities and modernization efforts are mutually compatible, and by strengthening military-to-military coordination,” according to a statement from the DVIDS.

“Balikatan” is a Tagalog term that means “shoulder-to-shoulder,” which characterizes the spirit of the exercise and represents the Alliance between the Philippines and the United States, DVIDS continues.

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