By Michael Punongbayan
MANILA, Philippines - This year’s Balikatan exercise between US and Philippine military forces, while veering away from the usual focus on territorial defense and maritime security, is timely and will put more attention on the global threat of terrorism.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the joint military exercise for 2017 is “different” but is actually “more special” because it will concentrate on humanitarian assistance, disaster response (HADR) and counterterrorism.
“I think we have to devote more resources and time to this kind of activity and also to counterterrorism,” he said during the opening ceremony of the Balikatan exercises in Camp Aguinaldo yesterday.
US Ambassador Sung Kim described this year’s exercises, set to run from May 8 to 19, as proof of the strong military partnership and friendship between the two nations.
He said American and Filipino soldiers would learn a lot from the activities that have been lined up to “help save lives and rebuild devastated communities.”
“But from my perspective, it’s more than that. Balikatan has a very special meaning for the embodiment of our robust bilateral relationship and reflects not only our strong military partnership but also the deep friendship between our two peoples,” Kim added.
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