Balikatan, an annual Republic of the Philippines-U.S. bilateral military humanitarian assistance and training exercise, will take place in the Philippines April 16-30, 2009. Preliminary work on community infrastructure projects will begin in early April.
Balikatan 2009 will focus on training both of our armed forces to provide relief and assistance together, in the event of natural disasters and other crises that endanger public health and safety.
In addition, Philippine and U.S. military service members will conduct humanitarian assistance projects in Bicol, Central and Southern Luzon, and Zamboanga. They will offer free medical, dental, and veterinary care and construct and repair schools and other community infrastructure in communities most in need of assistance.
Members from all military services of our countries will conduct combined staff exercises and field training in Luzon to improve interoperability and contingency planning.
“These humanitarian assistance and training activities enable our soldiers to get to know each other, train together, and provide assistance in communities where the need is greatest,” said U.S. Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney.
“True to the meaning of the word balikatan, this exercise entails Philippine and U.S. forces shouldering the load together to help the greatest possible number of people in need.”
Balikatan 2009 will be the 25th annual event of its kind held under the auspices of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). -- PR