Personnel from the Australian Defence Force (ADF) have joined the US and the Philippines forces to participate in the 33rd iteration of Exercise Balikatan 2017.
Exercise Balikatan 2017 is an annual military bilateral exercise being held in the Philippines, and is hosted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the US Pacific Command (US PACOM).
The exercise places emphasis on conducting a wide range of missions, including counter-terrorism and other combined military operations.
The ADF will participate in the Balikatan exercise series for the fourth time, in order to support the country in its commitment to building regional capacity in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, as well as regional security.
Headquarters Joint Operations Command Engagement and Assessment director general air commodore Noel Derwort said: “This exercise allows us to build on our strong relationship with the AFP while maintaining good interoperability with US PACOM.
“This year’s exercise has already seen ADF personnel return to Ormoc City on Leyte Island where they made an important contribution to the recovery from Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.
“Other ADF personnel are contributing to exercises that build regional capacity to respond with high availability disaster recovery (HADR) and security operations.”
Around 80 ADF personnel are participating in the exercise, which is slated to run through up to 19 May.
The exercise involves a Command Post Exercise component, a Humanitarian Civic Assistance programme on Leyte and Samar Islands and a wide range of military training activities, which will feature an Air Force AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and personnel from Special Operations Command.
The 2017 exercise will focus on high-value training events designed to improve the capabilities of both AFP and the US armed forces to offer relief and assistance in case of natural disasters, in additon to various other crisis scenarios that may affect public health and safety.
Image: The Australian Defence Force personnel participating in Exercise Balikatan 2017. Photo: US Department of Defense / © Commonwealth of Australia 2015.