Balikatan exercise to continue on ‘limited scale’

THE annual Balikatan exercise between Filipino and American troops will continue next month even as US forces
stepped-up their relief efforts in earthquake and tsunami stricken Japan.

A Filipino military official said Friday, March 25, that with the exception of construction of school buildings in Zambales and Tarlac, this year’s Balikatan will have some “minor” adjustments.

Major Enrico Illeto, the Balikatan’s public affairs officer for the side of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), said that some of the US troops to take part in this year’s exercise are committed in the relief efforts in Japan.

“There maybe some adjustment on field training and command post exercises because of US military support to relief efforts in Japan where some of them are scheduled to participate with the AFP, but constructions project are on schedule,” Illeto said.

The AFP earlier announced that around 6,000 American troops are scheduled to participate in the annual bilateral exercise where about 2,000 AFP personnel will also participate.

The AFP added that five two-room classroom buildings being constructed under the Balikatan 2011’s training on Humanitarian and Civic Assistance and Community Relations in Tarlac and Zambales provinces are to be finished on time before the closing ceremony on April 15.

The construction of classrooms, which started early this month, aims to advance joint and bilateral Engineering Civic Action Program (ENCAP) interoperability between the AFP and the US Armed Forces. Anthony Vargas

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