AFP: Balikatan 2023 ‘very successful’

AFP: Balikatan 2023 ‘very successful’

MANILA – This year’s iteration of the “Balikatan” joint military exercises between the Philippines and the United States was a “very successful” one with a number of firsts on several fronts, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Andres Centino said Friday.

He said this year’s “Balikatan,” which lasted three weeks, was the first with new activities in multiple venues — even as the Philippines starts preparations for next year’s exercises.

“We had a very successful Balikatan this year, nasabi ko nga kanina a lot of firsts, maraming mga bagong activities that we included sa halos na three weeks nating exercise. First time din na nagkaroon tayo ng multiple venues, napakaraming lugar na kung saan tayo nagconduct ng ating exercise and after this. Pagkatapos nito will be another preparation — it’s a whole year preparation actually and right after this makikita natin what needs to be improved or refined. We will continue planning again for next year (We had a very successful Balikatan this year with a lot of firsts. We had many new activities in the last three weeks in multiple venues. After this will be another round of preparations — it’s a whole year preparation where we will see what needs to be improved or refined),” Centino said in an interview shortly after the exercise’s closing ceremonies.

He added there is a chance there will be more soldiers involved in next year’s edition.

Kung makita natin there is a need na talagang dagdagan natin, and of course it would be better na magkaroon tayo ng chance to train with other armies also, mga friends and allies natin (If we see there is a need to add people, it will be better if we have a chance to train with other armies of our friends and allies),” the AFP chief added.

Centino said this year’s “Balikatan” showed the need for better coordination, noting some delays in this aspect, even as he said this was “tolerable.”

He added there is a need to find new locations for holding the joint exercises.

The AFP chief said the “Balikatan” exercises would also help greatly in resolving internal security issues, noting live fire and similar exercises are “very relevant” in their efforts to improve their capabilities.

Meanwhile, Centino said the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea [WPS] will discuss ways to address the latest sighting of Chinese militia vessels in the disputed waters.

He added the AFP is part of the task force and will cooperate with other agencies including the Philippine Coast Guard in determining the respective roles the agencies will perform.

Nandiyan din ang Coast Guard, so this… will be discussed [by the] National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea. Doon na pag-uusapan on what respective roles ng iba’t ibang agencies will conform (The Coast Guard is also there so this will be discussed by the national task force on WPS. The discussions will determine the respective roles the agencies will perform),” he said. (PNA) 

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