NEWS | May 8, 2018

US and Filipino Soldiers to Strengthen Alliance at BK18

By U.S. Army Pacific

FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii -- U.S. Army Soldiers in the Pacific will participate in tough, realistic training alongside longtime allies when they participate in Balikatan 2018 on the island of Luzon, Philippines, May 7-18.

Balikatan, which means "shoulder to shoulder" in Tagalog, focuses on a variety of missions, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counterterrorism, and other combined military operations.

This is the 34th iteration of the annual U.S.-Philippine multilateral military exercise sponsored by United States Pacific Command and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

"This exercise is a tremendous way to showcase the strong U.S.-Philippine alliance, to learn from one another, and to train together for scenarios that could take place in the real world," said Sung Kim, United States Ambassador to the Philippines.

U.S. Army Pacific is contributing 1,150 Soldiers, just under half the 3,000 U.S. military forces participating in Balikatan. The U.S. Marine Corps is contributing approximately 1,100 Marines, the U.S. Air Force is contributing approximately 400 Airmen, and the U.S. Navy is contributing approximately 50 sailors. Approximately 250 U.S. Special Operations Forces will also participate.

U.S. Army units include elements of 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division; 16th Combat Aviation Brigade; 25th Sustainment Brigade, 330th Medical Brigade; 500th Military Intelligence Brigade; 413th Contracting Support Brigade; 303rd Ordnance Battalion (EOD); Guam Army National Guard, Hawaii National Guard's Chemical, Biological, Radiological Enhanced Response Force Package; 249th Engineer Battalion and 523rd Engineer Company.

"Regional exercises like Balikatan are an opportunity to build our combined capabilities and share best practices across the full range of military operations," said Maj. Gen. Ronald Clark, 25th Infantry Division commander. "If asked to work together to meet real-world contingencies, the seeds of success will have been planted by routinely training together in venues like this."

At Balikatan, the Philippines and the United States will continue to collaborate with regional partner nations. Forces from Australia and Japan will participate in all major training events, and the AFP invited military forces from the U.K. and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to be part of the International Observers Program.