Balikatan troops renovate schools, health clinic

CLARK FREEPORT — Security forces from US, Australia and the Philippines conducting joint military exercises under Balikatan 2019 had renovated three elementary schools in Orani, Bataan and a health clinic in a remote village at Moncada, Tarlac Similar activities have been initiated in Pangil, Laguna and San Juan, Batangas as part of their humanitarian projects.

“Repairs and renovation of schools, health and wellness missions, and community relations are regular activities of the joint military exercises dubbed as Balikatan,” the US Embassy said in a statement.
The objective is to improve educational infrastructure, teach lifesaving medical skills, and strengthen ties between Philippine communities and Philippines, U.S. and Australian military forces. The Balikatan activities will commence on April 1-12.

Activities lined-up during the military exercises include amphibious operations, live-fire training, urban operations, aviation operations, and counterterrorism response.  All events will take place in Luzon, Palawan, and Mindoro.

This year, Balikatan is the first joint exercise to incorporate the USS Wasp paired and the United States Marines Corps’ F-35B Lightning II aircraft.  
Together they represent an increase in military capability committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific.  Participating in Balikatan demonstrates their ability to forward deploy in support of an ally should a crisis or natural disaster occur.

Balikatan 2019, the US Embassy said, will also bring together ASEAN members for an International Observers Program which promote greater defense cooperation with ASEAN and other key allies and partners, show multinational coordination where the observers can mutually exchange meaningful ideas and best practices, and showcase the joint and combined air, sea, and ground operation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. Armed Forces.  

This year’s Balikatan focuses on maritime security and amphibious capabilities, as well as multinational interoperability through military exchanges.  

Exercises like Balikatan strengthen international partnerships and the participating militaries’ abilities to rapidly respond to crises throughout the Indo-Pacific region. 

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