RP, U.S. Balikatan commanders receive bilateral update
By Lance Cpl. Cristina Noelia Gil
| | April 20, 2009
CAMP GENERAL EMILIO AGUINALDO, Philippines --
The Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. forces held the first bilateral commander’s brief for Balikatan 2009 at the Command and General Staff College here April 20.
Balikatan is an annual bilateral training activity involving the governments of the Republic of the Philippines and the U.S. to increase the armed forces’ ability to work together and respond effectively to natural disasters and other crises.
In attendance were Armed Forces of the Philippines Commodore Ramon P. Espera Jr., RP Balikatan ’09 exercise director, Brig. Gen. Ronald L. Bailey, co-director, Balikatan ’09 and representatives from all elements involved in training activities.
“This is the heart and intent of Balikatan,” said AFP Col. Rodolfo Santiago, executive agent for Balikatan ’09. “Throughout the exercise we are taking two different processes and integrating them seamlessly. That is what this brief is about – using those processes as one to keep each commander informed.”
Representatives from each staff section were in attendance to give situation reports pertaining to their specialized areas. In their reports, they let their commanders know what significant events or issues have occurred in the last 24 hours or will occur within the next 24 hours. Commanders are also informed of the number of troops they have on the ground, weather updates, force protection and media reports.
The brief mirrors what would occur in instances of natural disasters, requests for humanitarian assistance and other bilateral operations involving the RP and U.S.
“This is a real-world focus of Balikatan. We get reports from all phases of every operation going on to ensure information is in sync,” said U.S. Marine Maj. Chris Cohn, III Marine Expeditionary Force lead for Balikatan ’09. “I think it’s a very good thing to ensure we have the same info as our counterparts.”
The brief offered AFP and U.S. forces a chance to meet with their counterparts and get to know them a little better, one of the main goals of Balikatan ’09.
“We need to take advantage of situations like this to get to know one another. It takes time, but this is the perfect opportunity,” Bailey added at the brief’s closing.
Over the two-week exercise, AFP and U.S. forces will be conducting bilateral training, medical, dental, veterinarian and engineering civic action projects throughout the country. This year marks the 25th iteration of Balikatan and celebrates a long-standing relationship and mutual obligations between the two countries.