From DVIDS (Apr 14): Clark Field holds static display, media day during Balikatan 2013
Filipino children from local schools prepare to get aboard a U.S. Air Force KC-130J Hercules aircraft at Clark Field, Philippines, April 13 during a static display for exercise Balikatan 2013. National and international media, Philippine military dependents, children from local schools and officer candidates currently in training were invited to the flight line to learn about the aircrafts’ capabilities and take photographs. BK13 is an annual bilateral training evolution aimed at ensuring interoperability of the Philippine and U.S. militaries during planning, contingency and humanitarian assistance operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Kasey Peacock/Released)
CLARK FIELD, Philippines – Shutters clicked and cameras flashed as men and woman hustled into position for the best shot. Philippine airmen and U.S. service members stood by their aircraft and vehicles as men, women and children scattered about the hot blacktop airfield. It became clear to everyone there why the annual exercise Balikatan was given the Filipino moniker meaning ‘shoulder-to-shoulder.’
Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. service members gathered at Clark Field, Philippines, April 13 to host a static display of Philippine and U.S. aircraft for members of the local media, Philippine military dependents, children from local schools and officer candidates currently in training.
The static display was arranged as part of exercise Balikatan 2013, an annual bilateral training evolution aimed at ensuring interoperability of the Philippine and U.S. militaries during planning, contingency and humanitarian assistance operations.
“Today wasn’t just about letting the media come and take pictures,” said Philippine soldier Technical Sgt. Meynardo D. Laguicla, a news and distribution security guard with the Philippine Army Public Affairs Office. “This was a chance for everybody to come together and enjoy each other’s company. It was about demonstrating the progress we have made working alongside each other throughout this exercise.”
The aircraft displayed consisted of U.S. Marine Corps aircraft—one MV-22B Osprey, one F/A-18 Hornet—and U.S. Air Force aircraft—one Hawker Hunter jet, one KC-130J Hercules. A Philippine Air Force helicopter and two fixed wing aircraft were also on display. Visitors rotated throughout the airfield learning about the capabilities of the aircraft from the pilots and aircrew standing by.
During two separate occasions, aircraft rescue fire fighters from both militaries performed a bilateral demonstration of their crash response skills.
The demonstrations began with rescue vehicles charging out while firefighters hosed the deck, followed by a joint extraction of a casualty from an aircraft.
“One thing I am confident in because of these exercises is that if something was to happen in the region and we needed to respond, we could respond together effectively,” said Philippine Army Maj. Gen. Virgilio Domingo the commandant of the Command and General Staff Course and the Philippine Balikatan exercise director. “Seeing the U.S. military’s aircraft and capabilities puts the future of our air operations into perspective. It is a great opportunity for our pilots to interact and learn from U.S. pilots who have flown with such advanced technology.”
Also in attendance was deputy exercise director U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Richard L. Simcock II, who stood should-to-shoulder with Domingo answering questions from the media about the aircraft and exercise.
“The opportunities we have in the Philippines are outstanding,” said Simcock. “Some people think that we can go and train just about anywhere. Places like Crow Valley and Clark Field are as good as it gets for us to conduct bilateral training operations.”
While Balikatan is one of many exercises conducted between U.S. service members and partnering nations, the importance of working together with the AFP is crucial to mission accomplishment in the Asia-Pacific region, according to Simcock.
Balikatan focuses on training both militaries to provide relief and assistance in the event of natural disasters and other crises that endanger public health and safety. Additionally, military service members from both countries will conduct combined staff exercises to improve interoperability and contingency planning.