Balikatan Exercise

News Excerpt:

The United States and the Philippines will open what they are billing as the “most expansive” iteration of the annual Balikatan military exercise, at a time of growing tension around Taiwan and the South China Sea.

More about Balikatan-2024:

  • Balikatan is an annual military exercise between US and Philippines armed forces.
  • This year’s staging of Balikatan, the allies’ largest annual military drill, will include a joint sail in the disputed South China Sea outside the Philippines’ territorial waters. 
    • It will be the first time that the Balikatan drills have extended beyond 12 nautical miles off the Philippine coast and into waters claimed by China.
    • This year’s war games are taking place at a time of increasingly strained relations between China and the Philippines as President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (of Philippines) grew more assertive over territorial rights and bolstered ties with the US and its allies. 
  • The French navy, a first-time Balikatan participant, and the Australian navy will also join the manoeuvres.

Military drills and activities part of the exercise:

  • US and Philippine troops will also simulate the sinking of an “enemy ship" and retaking three Philippine islands, seeking to enhance the interoperability of their militaries. 
  • Balikatan will also involve “tracking of simulated air threats and targeting them with multiple air and missile defence systems" as well as “integrating multilateral air and land platforms to increase awareness of the maritime security situation”.
  • This year’s exercises will also feature cyber defence and information warfare after the Philippines grappled with recent hacking incidents.

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