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    Balikatan 2013 stage for first intelligence, force protection information exchange



    Story by Lt.j.g. Bryan Mitchell 

    Exercise Balikatan

    CAMP EMILIO AGUINALDO, Philippines – On this urban military installation, amid creaking palm trees and sweat-drenched troops, a handful of U.S military members spent a week building greater trust with their Filipino counterparts during a subject matter exchange focused on intelligence and force protection.

    The exchange is one of the latest developments to help build interoperability between Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. forces during exercise Balikatan 2013, the 29th iteration of the annual bilateral training exercise, which fosters a long standing relationship with both militaries.

    This is the first time an exchange of information and experience has taken place on this topic. It grew out of a need recognized during the planning phase of this year’s exercise.

    “We are thankful for this opportunity to continue to grow our capabilities and to share what we know about these critical subjects,” said Philippine Army Lt. Col. Arnulfo F. Bajarin, senior officer from the AFP participating in the training.

    Approximately 60 Filipino service members from across all four branches of the AFP attended the four-day training.

    “I’ve been very impressed with their (the Filipino students) ability to absorb the knowledge,” said a U.S. Marine spokesman, who was instrumental in organizing the exchange. “The students are eager, and I’ve been impressed by how quickly they pick things up.”

    Bajarin said the exchange proved beneficial to both Philippine and U.S. participants.

    “I lectured the American forces on how we work intelligence and helped them understand our strengths and challenges in this environment,” Bajarin said. “They will take this knowledge back to their commands across the country and cascade it to their units.”

    The exercise formally kicked off April 5th at a ceremony that included senior diplomats and military officers from both the Philippines and U.S. The U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, Harry K. Thomas, Jr., captured the spirit of the exercise during his opening address.

    “Shoulder-to-shoulder we stand together, ready to defend when necessary and assist when needed,” Thomas said.

    The Philippines Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert F. del Rosario confirmed Thomas’ sentiment with an agreement that the exercise will “breathe life and meaning to our obligations as treaty partners.”

    A day earlier, U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Richard L. Simcock, U.S. deputy exercise director, affirmed the training’s importance by attending the student’s commencement ceremony.

    Simcock and Bajarin know the joint training will make the AFP more capable.

    “This training is extremely important in providing timely, actionable and relevant information about the movements and operations of the various threat groups we contend with,” Bajarin said.



    Date Taken: 04.10.2013
    Date Posted: 04.10.2013 00:57
    Story ID: 104908
    Location: MANILA, PH 

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