PH, US Navy ships arrive in Palawan for ‘Balikatan’ drills

PH, US Navy ships arrive in Palawan for ‘Balikatan’ drills

MANILA – The Naval Forces West (NFW) on Thursday night announced that Philippine and American ships participating in this year’s “Balikatan” exercises have entered the “joint operational area” (JOA) of the Puerto Princesa, Palawan-based Western Command (Wescom).

These ships were identified as the Philippine Navy’s (PN) missile frigate BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) and landing dock BRP Tarlac (LD-601), and the US Navy’s USS Makin Island (LHD-8).

“Said vessels will meet up at the vicinity of Dumaran Island and perform communication exercises while en route for the amphibious raid over the beach of Barangay Samariñana, Brooke’s Point all in the province of Palawan on April 14, 2023,” NFW commander Commodore Alan Javier said in a statement.

He said the ships left Subic Bay, Zambales on Wednesday.

“Before departure, vessels presented their respective briefings and conducted tabletop exercises on April 11, 2023,” Javier added.

He also said the Wescom, through Joint Task Force West and NFW, would assume control of the vessels while performing the different serials in the command’s JOA.

“To the participants, welcome to Wescom, home of the gallant defenders of the western frontier! Keep charging towards stability and strong partnership!” Javier said.

With more than 17,500 combined troops from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the US military, this year’s “Balikatan” will have four major events.

These are the so-called command post exercise, cyber defense exercise, field training exercise (FTX), and humanitarian civic assistance.

“For the AFP, in particular, this year’s ‘Balikatan’ Exercise is most timely, as we fast-track the enhancement of our capabilities for maritime security and domain awareness, as well as our employment concept of newly acquired equipment and weapon systems under our modernization program and application of newly developed doctrines, with the end in view of projecting a credible defense posture,” AFP chief Gen. Andres C. Centino earlier said.

Participating forces will enhance their joint and combined capabilities in maritime security, amphibious operations, live-fire exercise, urban operations, aviation operations, counter-terrorism, and humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

US, PH troops take part in logistics exercise in Aurora

Meanwhile, some 400 US troops and 200 service members of the AFP took part in the loading and offloading of cargoes during the combined joint logistics over the shore (CJLOTS) which kicked off last April 11 at the shores of Casiguran, Aurora.

The CJLOTS exercises demonstrated their capabilities of offloading/backloading US cargoes and amphibious bulk liquid transfer system (ABLTS).

“Said exercise aims to demonstrate the US and Philippine ability to transfer mission essential (liquid and solid) cargoes from sea to the shore in when fixed port facilities are unavailable, damaged or denied due to enemy activities or calamities,” Naval Forces Northern Luzon said in a statement Friday. (PNA)

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