U.S. and Philippine forces successfully conclude the 37th Balikatan
Manila, April 8, 2022—Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the United States military gathered today to celebrate the successful completion of Balikatan 2022, the 37th iteration of the annual bilateral exercise.
Over the past two weeks, nearly 9,000 exercise participants from AFP and the U.S. military have trained side-by-side from the northern coast of Luzon to Palawan, focusing on maritime security, amphibious operations, live fire training, urban operations, air operations, counter-terrorism, humanitarian aid and disaster relief.
“After two years of a global pandemic, U.S. and Philippine forces have come together to carry out one of the largest Balikatan exercises ever,” said Heather Variava, the U.S. Embassy’s acting charge d’affaires. United in the Philippines. “This speaks to the strength of the U.S.-Philippine alliance and our countries’ shared priorities.”
“The completion of another successful Balikatan is a clear example of our shared commitment to advancing peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region,” said Brig. Gen. Joseph Clearfield, deputy commander of United States Marine Corps Forces Pacific. “Through our mutual efforts, our armies have grown together in friendship, and we are better prepared to respond as a cohesive team to any crisis or challenge.”
“The experience gained from Exercise Balikatan has complemented our security cooperation efforts and helped strengthen existing mutual security efforts,” said Major General Charlton Sean Gaerlan, exercise director at the AFP. “Although there were limitations caused by the pandemic, it is highly commendable that the exercise was completed and generated a favorable outcome.”
U.S. and Philippine exercise forces employed more than 50 aircraft, four ships, 10 amphibious vehicles, four HIMARS rocket system launchers and four Patriot missile systems during Balikatan 22. This year’s exercise also included approximately 40 personnel of the Australian Defense Force.
During Balikatan 22, US Army Patriot missile systems were used for the first time in amphibious operations in the Philippines. The exercise also saw the inaugural deployment of the US Marine Corps’ 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment (3d MLR), which was established in Hawaii on March 3.
AFP and US forces experimented with sensors and fire support, and used expeditionary forward bases (EABs) as part of an integrated coastal defense. Over the course of eight days, 3d MLR partnered with the Philippine Marine Corps Coastal Defense Regiment and provided command and control of several EABs in northern Luzon. This coastal defense was further reinforced by two batteries of Patriot missiles from the 1st Battalion of the United States Army, the 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment and the HIMARS rocket system from the 3rd Battalion of the 12th Marines.
The United States Navy and the Philippine Navy played a key role in shipping and offshore support.
AFP and the U.S. military have also conducted several humanitarian and civic assistance projects, including the renovation of four elementary schools, multiple community health engagements, and the exchange of advanced lifesaving and emergency rescue techniques. These construction projects, health engagements, and community relations events have improved local infrastructure, facilitated the exchange of vital medical skills, and strengthened ties between local communities and Philippine and U.S. military forces.
As Balikatan 22 draws to a close, AFP and U.S. forces will continue to train and stand together regularly at other exercises and initiatives throughout the year to promote readiness, interoperability, friendship and security.
Balikatan, Tagalog for “shoulder to shoulder,” is a long-standing bilateral exercise highlighting the deep-rooted partnership between the Philippines and the United States. Photos, videos and reports on Balikatan 22 are available at https://www.dvidshub.net/unit/BK.