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Philippines, US military close 2023 Balikatan Exercise

The 2023 Balikatan Exercise between the armed forces of the Philippines and United States has officially closed on Friday.

“As the chief of staff AFP, I now declare the Balikatan Exercise 38-2023 closed,” Armed Forces chief General Andres Centino said during the closing ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo.

The joint military exercises opened on April 11.

This year’s Balikatan marked its biggest iteration with more than 17,600 participants, including 12,200 US troops and 5,400 Philippine soldiers, according to the AFP.

It aimed to enhance cooperation, increase capabilities and improve interoperability of the two countries.

Four major events were set in this year's Balikatan: Command Post Exercise, Cyber Defense Exercise, Field Training Exercise, and Humanitarian Civic Assistance (HCA).

Balikatan culminated with the sinking of a ship during their littoral live fire exercise in Zambales on Wednesday. This was the first time the Philippines and US conducted such an activity together.

While saying that 2023 Balikatan went successful, Centino admitted that there were “delays” during the exercise and that coordination should be improved.

“Siguro sa coordination, may mga delays but these delays are tolerable naman. Madaling maayos ito,” Centino said in an ambush interview.

(Perhaps, on coordination, we had some delays but those were tolerable. We can fix it easily.)

(Meron pa rin tayong pwedeng mabago at ma-improve (We still have some things that we can change and improve.)

Philippine exercise director Major General Marvin Licudine and US exercise director US Marine Corps Forces - Pacific commander Lieutenant General William Jurney attended the ceremony.

Also present during the closing ceremony were Philippine Defense chief Carlito Galvez Jr., US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson. — RSJ, GMA Integrated News