Australian Defence Force personnel will today commence participation in Exercise Balikatan 2016, the major annual multi-faceted exercise hosted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and US Pacific Command.
CAPTION: First Lieutenant Michael Maggitti of the United States Marine Corps (left) and Lieutenant Commander Ian Burgess of the United States Navy chat with Flying Officer Danica Ellis from RAAF 92 Wing during Exercise Balikatan 2016. Photo by Corporal David Said.
This is the third year that Australia has participated in the exercise series.
Commander of the Australian Contingent, Wing Commander Bill Talbot, said the exercise provides Australian Defence Force personnel with valuable opportunities such as providing support to the amphibious exercise and participating in the humanitarian assistance program.
“Balikatan allows us to reaffirm our friendship with and support to the Philippines while maintaining good interoperability with US Forces assigned to US Pacific Command,” Wing Commander Talbot said.
“Our participation reflects our close military working relationship with the Philippines, which has been reinforced in recent years with our support to disaster recovery efforts following Typhoon Haiyan. We also gifted two Australian heavy landing craft to the Philippines Navy last year.
“We are grateful to both the Philippines and to US Pacific Command for the invitation to again participate in the Balikatan series.”
Exercise Balikatan 2016 will involve 86 ADF personnel, with major contributions including a 30-strong Special Forces element from the 2nd Commando Regiment. An RAAF AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and crew will also participate with supporting maintenance personnel drawn from 92 Wing.
The exercise will run from April 4 to April 16 and includes a staff exercise component, a field training exercise component that includes an amphibious landing exercise, and a humanitarian civil action program on Panay Island.
This program will include an ADF team who will assist in the refurbishment of a school roof and provide specialist dental mentoring to Armed Forces of the Philippines dental personnel.