Exercise Balikatan 2017 gets underway in Philippines

Illustration: US Navy personnel unload heavy equipment off of USNS Millinocket (T-EPF 3) at Puerto Princesa, Philippines for exercise Balikatan 2016.

Australian defense personnel joined the U.S. and Philippines for the 2017 annual multi-layered exercise Balikatan.

Taking place in the Philippines, the exercise will run from May 8 – 19 and include humanitarian and civic assistance events, and joint field training exercises.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has deployed 80 personnel to the Philippines for what will be the country’s fourth participation in the exercise series.

“This exercise allows us to build on our strong relationship with the Armed Forces of the Philippines while maintaining good interoperability with United States Pacific Command,” Australian Air Commodore Noel Derwort said.

“This year’s exercise has already seen ADF personnel return to Ormoc City on Leyte Island where they made an important contribution to the recovery from Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

“Other ADF personnel are contributing to exercises that build regional capacity to respond with HADR and security operations.”

The exercise will include a command post exercise component, a humanitarian civic assistance program on Leyte and Samar Islands and a range of military training activities involving an Air Force AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and personnel from Special Operations Command.

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