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PH-US Balikatan Exercise 2024 ‘biggest’ with inter-agency participation

The 2024 edition of Balikatan between the Philippines and the United States will be the biggest iteration of the annual joint military exercise with the participation of various government agencies and the armed forces of more nations.

According to Philippine Army Colonel Michael Logico, Balikatan executive agent, the participants will be composed of around 16,700 troops with the addition of personnel from the Australian Defense Force and the Marine Nationale (French Navy).

“What’s also not included in the 16,000 is the participation of other government agencies like the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Information, Communications, and Technology (DICT), Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and the Presidential Communications Office (PCO),” he said in a press conference on Tuesday.

“So if we count them all, it might be the largest so (President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.) is right,” he added.

The 39th Balikatan, scheduled from April 22 to May 10, 2024, will cover three main components: Command and Control Exercise (C2X), Field Training Exercise (FTX), and Humanitarian Civic Assistance (HCA).

These activities will be held in different geographical areas under the Northern Luzon Command, Western Command, and Southern Luzon Command.

In one of the activities, warships of the Philippine Navy, US Navy and French Navy will conduct a Multilateral Maritime Exercise or a joint sailing exercise in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Among the observer countries for Balikatan 2024 are Brunei, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Romeo Brawner Jr. said, "Together, we speed up our march towards enhancing our military capabilities for maritime security alongside honing other competencies in order to effectively address the dynamic challenges across all domains."

Lieutenant General William Jurney, US Marine Corps Forces, Pacific and U.S. Exercise Director for Balikatan 2024, expressed confidence that the capabilities of the troops involved will improve as a result of the exercise.

“Our combined capabilities with the Armed Forces of the Philippines are stronger than ever. Every day that we work and train together, the bonds between our people grow stronger, our capabilities grow stronger, our alliance grows stronger,” he said.—RF, GMA Integrated News