Saturday, April 25, 2015

WATCH: US Army officer 'moved' in 70th Palawan liberation

From the Philippine Star (Apr 26): WATCH: US Army officer 'moved' in 70th Palawan liberation             

In a video released by the US Marine Corps, Sargi said he and other American servicemen who attended the event, the first time it was held in decades, are a part of the Philippines-US joint military exercises Balikatan 2015.

This year marks the 31st iteration of the bilateral exercise, which which includes humanitarian civic assistance engagement.

Video by US Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Jason W. Fudge/Released. Mobile users may watch this video on Desktop Mode of this page.

8ID sends-off one battalion to Mindanao

From Samar News (Apr 23): 8ID sends-off one battalion to Mindanao

April 23, 2015

 CAMP VICENTE LUKBAN, Catbalogan CityThe 8th Infantry (Stormtrooper) Division, Philippine Army sent one of its Battalions to Mindanao in a send-off ceremony conducted at Catarman Airport on March 20, 2015.

In a simple but meaningful program, the 34th Infantry Battalion was given a plaque of appreciation in recognition of their valuable services rendered to the people of Eastern Visayas. The Assistant Division Commander, Colonel Demy T Tejares, presented the Plaque to Lt Col Edgar Delos Reyes, the Army Battalion’s Commanding Officer as he received the award in behalf of the members of the 34th Infantry Battalion.

Along this line, Lt Col. Delos Reyes reported for completeness of his battalion which was immediately followed by inspection of troops by the Guest of Honor prior to boarding the Air Force C-130 plane.

Col. Tejares in his remarks urged the troops to be disciplined at all times for they will assume new areas and engaged new people with peculiar culture. He urged them to put primary in respecting the culture of the people they are going to deal with as well as their rights as embedded in our constitutions.

“I also served in Mindanao and I know the challenges that await you as soon as your battalion set foot in those ground. Don’t forget to be steadfast and make the 8th Infantry (Stormtrooper) Division proud of you”, said Tejares.

The unit will be stationed in the province of Maguindanao, to support the ongoing AFP operations against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF), Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM) and other Lawless elements which had been undermining, the peace and development efforts of the Aquino administration.

63IB celebrates 17th anniversary, gives recognition to outstanding military personnel and stakeholders

From Samar News (Apr 3): 63IB celebrates 17th anniversary, gives recognition to outstanding military personnel and stakeholders

63IB 17th Founding Anniversary

MGen. Jet Velarmino AFP, Commander 8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army giving his message during the 17th Founding Anniversary of 63rd Infantry (Innovator) Battalion at Brgy. Magsaysay, Lope de Vega, Northern Samar on March 30, 2015.

April 3, 2015

CAMP VICENTE LUKBAN, Catbalogan CityThe 63rd Infantry (Innovator) Battalion under the 8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army based at Lope de Vega, Northern Samar recently celebrated its 17th Founding Anniversary on March 30, 2015.

Highlighting the activities is the presentation of awards to military personnel who excel in their respective tasks and the presentation of Plaques of Appreciation to the Local Chief Executives who contributed to the battalion’s effort in the 1st District of Northern Samar. It was immediately followed by a press conference conducted by the members of the local media.

According to Lt. Col. Carmelito T Pangatungan, Commanding Officer of 63IB, the Battalion was organized on April 1, 1987 pursuant to General Order number 120, HPA dated March 27, 1987 and adopted the motto “Innovator”. Through the years, the battalion has served and participated in various anti-insurgency campaigns in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao and has gained distinction in the accomplishment of its mission.

The activity was graced by Major General Jet B. Velarmino, Commander 8ID, Colonel Herminigildo C Aquino, 803rd Brigade Commander, Mayor Ronaldo P Aquino of Calbayog, Mayor Rod Suan of Allen, Mayor Ana T Palloc of Lope de Vega, members of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development and the media.

“The 8ID is one with you in celebrating your 17th year founding anniversary, thus, it is my great pride and privilege to be part of this celebration. Indeed, you deserve commemorating this important moment because this is where we give due recognition to the dedication of the officers and enlisted personnel of this battalion. Continue the good practices and tradition that your unit has started and remain as catalyst in bringing lasting peace and development here in the 1st district of Northern Samar. As your commander, I urge you to be the best in all your undertakings so that we will be able to achieve an Insurgency Free Northern Samar in the near future”, said Velarmino.

NPAs fired on a former CAFGU, kills a two year-old child instead

From Samar News (Apr 6): NPAs fired on a former CAFGU, kills a two year-old child instead

April 6, 2015

GANDARA, SamarA two year old female child was killed by six armed members of the New People’s Army in Barangay Mahanud, Matuguinao, Samar on April 3, 2015 at 8:30 in the morning.

The incident took place when the rebels opened fire at the former CAFGU member long targeted for liquidation by the NPAs. The former CAFGU, who was identified as Mr Jovic Dela Cruz Obiado, 38 years old, a resident of Brgy Mahanud, Matuguinao, Samar was resting inside a waiting shed near the house of a local resident identified as Mr Junie Arandia.

Obiado disclosed that a certain Noynoy Erasga, a known NPA member, together with six other armed men approached him and suddenly fired their rifles towards him. Obiado managed to evade the group and ran to safety as the rebels continued to fire their rifles towards him.

At that point, the owner of the house, Mr Junie Arandia, shouted that his 2 year-old daughter, Disley Arandia who was sleeping inside their house, was fatally hit and was bleeding profusely. Instead of helping Mr Arandia, the NPA perpetrators ran away towards unknown direction.

Obiado reported the incident to the Matuguinao Police Station and the elements of 43rd Infantry Battalion based in the area immediately conducted hot pursuit.

LTC Seigfred C Tubalado, Commanding Officer of 43IB, condemned the barbaric acts done by the NPA. He said that the NPA clearly ignored the CARHRIL in which the CPP/NPA/NDF are signatories thereby killing innocent civilians. Tubalado further said that the barbaric act is a clear violation of Human Rights.

Meanwhile, the parents of the child sought the help of local authorities for justice and vowed to pursue the filing of criminal charges against the perpetrators.

Duterte asks NPA: Spare Palarong Pambansa

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 26): Duterte asks NPA: Spare Palarong Pambansa

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte called on the communist New People’s Army (NPA) to spare the Palarong Pambansa from attacks and, in jest, invited guerrillas to take part in the games as athletes.

“I would like to tell the NPA: Stay out of this,” Duterte said before a closed-door briefing in this city for security preparations for the Palarong Pambansa.

Some government officials expressed concern over the possibility of NPA rebels attacking venues of the games that are scheduled on May 4-9 in this city.

“I’m telling them, if you want to come and watch, fine,” said Duterte. “Or you may want to send a delegation, you may play basketball or volleyball with the Task Force Davao,” Duterte said.

Task Force Davao is a military-led antiterror group based in Davao City.

But Duterte said government officials should be assured that NPA rebels would not attack the games.

“I’m 100-percent sure of it,” he said.

BK15 soldiers build rapport during visits to Palawan communities

From DVIDS (Apr 25): BK15 soldiers build rapport during visits to Palawan communities

BK15 soldiers build rapport during visits to Palawan communities

U.S. Army Capt. Jesse Kittel, center left, Detachment 1230 and officer in charge, 324th Psychological Operations (PSYOP) Company, Detachment 1230 and officer in charge, Staff Sgt. Chandelle Stone, center right, Detachment 1230 product development detachment noncommissioned officer in charge , 324th PSYOP Company, Detachment 1230 product development detachment noncommissioned officer in charge, and Spc. Edward Shipp, 324th PSYOP Company, center, Detachment 1230 PSYOP specialist, 324th PSYOP Company, say farewell to community leaders of a barangay, or village, after talking with them about exercise Balikatan, April 23, in Bahile, Palawan, Philippines. Kittel, Stone, and Shipp are a part of the BK15 Military Information Support Operations and travel to barangays to inform community members about BK15 and strengthen relationships with the Philippines. This year marks the 31st iteration of the exercise, which is an annual Philippines-U.S. bilateral military training exercise and humanitarian civic assistance engagement. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal/Released)

BARANGAY BAHILE, Philippines, -- U.S. Army soldiers with the 324th Psychological Operations Company, Detachment 1280 visited the barangay, or village, Bahile, to inform community members about exercise Balikatan 2015 and strengthen relationships with the Philippines, April 23.

These soldiers support BK15 as part of the Military Information Support Operations team and converse with the Palawan populace on barangay issues as well as what BK15 is intended to accomplish in the Philippines.

During their visit to Bahile the team was able to tour the barangay with community leaders and build upon the U.S. military and Philippine relationship.

U.S. Army Capt. Jesse Kittel, 324th PSYOP Company, Det. 1280 officer in charge, explained why his team visits various communities to not only talk about BK15, but to also understand each barangay’s way of life.

“It’s much more than just building schools, it’s all about showing the partnership between the United States and the Philippines, especially with their Armed Forces,” Kittel said.

MISO communicates the purpose and partnership of BK15 to as many people as possible.

“We want the Philippines to see BK15 as a strong bond,” Kittel said. “Even if we may not be present in their barangay or building them a school, we still need to communicate the importance of what Balikatan is.”

BK15 is an annual Philippines-U.S. bilateral military training exercise and humanitarian civic assistance engagement that takes place on the islands of Luzon, Palawan and Panay, Philippines, from April 20-30.

The exercise in Palawan focuses on a series of HCA projects to foster Philippine-U.S. relationships and combined civic assistance capabilities. During these events, AFP and U.S. personnel conduct multiple medical, dental, veterinary, and engineering civic action projects in the communities.

U.S. Army Spc. Edward Shipp, Det. 1230 PSYOP specialist , 324th PSYOP Company, said that the trip to Bahile was a successful visit.

“It was great, they were very receptive of us partially because our driver is part of that barangay,” Shipp said. “When we went there they were very friendly and we saw that relationship start to evolve and become that partnership that the U.S. wants as well as the Filipinos.”

Arman Nunez, the MISO team’s exercise driver who has lived in Bahile, has seen the effects of BK15 daily.

“It’s definitely a big opportunity to my fellow Filipinos,” Nunez said. “It’s a great privilege to all of us because the U.S. is helping hand-in-hand together with our Filipino soldiers. When we need help they give aid by constructing buildings. It’s a big help for us.”

Nunez helped his U.S. counterparts hang banners throughout his barangay and supports BK15 with the hope that sometime in the future Bahile may be an exercise site designated for construction.

“For me, I’m very excited since I’ve been a part of Balikatan,” Nunez said. “Hopefully my barangay will be a part of the next series of constructing buildings. I’m hoping for next year or someday, maybe my barangay will get a building.”

Shipp hopes the work BK15 service members are doing will enhance the Philippine-U.S. partnership.

“For me personally I hope that the footprint we leave is not the buildings but the legacy,” Shipp said. “It’s more than just constructing buildings. It’s really about the relationship that the Filipinos have with the United States.”

This year marks the 31st iteration of the exercise, which is an annual Philippine-U.S. bilateral military training exercise and humanitarian civic assistance engagement.

Peace caravan for BBL held in Cotabato

From ABS-CBN (Apr 25): Peace caravan for BBL held in Cotabato

The Mindanao Alliance for Peace has conducted a series of activities to call on Congress and the Senate to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in its undiluted form.

Last Thursday morning, hundreds of members of the group joined the fun run from the Cotabato City Hall to the Cotabato City plaza.

After that, the group launched a barangay cleaning program in the downtown area.

Early Saturday morning, hundreds of vehicles joined the caravan for peace from the grand mosque in Barangay Kalanganan, Cotabato City to Midsayap, North Cotabato.

On Monday evening, the group will fly lanterns and launch the light for peace in support for the BBL.

Mindanao Alliance for Peace spokesperson professor Raby Angkal told ABS-CBN News that they are hoping that Congress and the Senate will listen to their call to pass an undiluted BBL so that lasting peace will be achieved in Mindanao.

AFP monitoring deployment of Chinese seaplanes in Spratlys

From the Philippine Star posted to ABS-CBN (Apr 26): AFP monitoring deployment of Chinese seaplanes in Spratlys

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is adopting a wait and see approach amid reports that China will soon deploy seaplanes to further strengthen its maritime claims in the disputed Spratlys.

Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala, spokesman for the military and commander of the AFP Civil Relations Service, said they have yet to ascertain the real purpose behind China’s continuing aggressive moves in the region.

“We will wait and see before coming up with an official stand,” Kakilala said when asked to comment on reports published by China Daily Mail that China would be deploying “ground effect vehicles” to its occupied territories in the Spratlys.

A defense official, who asked not to be named, said that as a sovereign state, the country reserves the right to enforce its maritime laws within the 200-nautical Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

“Vessels or aircraft intruding into the country’s EEZ, which includes the Kalayaan Island Group, are subject to Philippine laws and rules,” the defense official said.

A senior security official said that if China pushes through with its aggressive behavior, the Philippines would launch massive infrastructure developments in its territories in the region.

The Philippines is holding off development projects in the region in line with the Code of Conduct signed by all claimant-countries, including China.

“If they will do that, there will be no reason for the Philippines not to start developing the municipality of Kalayaan in Pag-Asa Island and its surrounding territories to make it a sustainable community. We will build hospitals, ports and field offices of government agencies there,” the official said.

China Daily Mail reported that two Chinese seaplanes are undergoing test flights in the coastal waters of Hainan. These seaplanes will serve as a means of transportation between China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea and Hainan.

China rejects Phl’s armed robbery claim

Beijing on Friday dismissed an accusation by Manila that the Chinese coast guard robbed Filipino fishermen at gunpoint during a confrontation in the disputed South China Sea, calling the claim “inconsistent with the fact.”

The rebuttal came a day after the Philippine fisheries bureau said that fishermen on three vessels with clear Chinese coast guard markings boarded two fishing boats in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal earlier this month and took the crew’s catch.

“What we have learned shows that accusations made by the Philippine side are inconsistent with the fact,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement posted on the ministry’s website.

Using the Chinese name for the disputed area, Hong maintained that Chinese vessels “perform guard duties and keep order in waters off the Huangyan Island in accordance with the law.”

He urged Manila to “discipline and educate its fishermen and put an end to its illegal activities.”

Panatag Shoal lies 220 kilometers (about 140 miles) off the main Philippine island of Luzon, and is 650 kilometers (408 miles) from Hainan Island, the nearest major Chinese land mass.

In the confrontation earlier this month, the Filipino fishermen “were threatened and pointed with a gun before the Chinese forcibly took their catch,” according to an incident report from the bureau sent to AFP.

The gunmen also destroyed the Filipinos’ fishing equipment, the report said.

A week later three Chinese coast guard ships fired water cannon on a Philippine fishing boat, injuring at least three crewmen and destroying the ship’s glass windows, according to a separate report from the bureau.

The Philippines has said it will file a diplomatic protest over the incidents.

Military public affairs chief lists five things how to support AFP on external defense

Ang Malaya (Apr 26): Military public affairs chief lists five things how to support AFP on external defense

Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs Office chief Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc said in his personal social networking account the military has many plans on external defense, however, they are not able to implement those plans due to lack of equipment. In this regard, the military officer gave the Filipino people five things on how to help.

First in the list is to vote for individuals who support AFP Modernization Program. “Huwag iboto yong mga pulitikong kurakot, makasarili,” Lt. Col. Cabunoc said.

Second is he enjoins the youth to join the ROTC and be a reserve force to voluntarily fight for the country when need arises.

“Magsumikap tayong lahat na maghanap-buhay at tumulong sa pagpapaunlad ng ating bayan,” Cabunoc listed in third. Next in his list is teach children good values like integrity and patriotism.

Fifth is help end armed conflicts between Filipinos and unite against foreign invaders.

American soldiers learn from Filipino counterparts

From Ang Malaya (Apr 26): American soldiers learn from Filipino counterparts

American Army and Marines learned different survival techniques during the jungle survival training with their Filipino counterparts as part of Balikatan 2015. Two training events were separately held for Army and Marines.

During the said jungle training, a U.S. Army soldier assigned to 1st BN, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd SBCT, 25th Infantry Division, drinks the blood of a king cobra during a jungle training exercise on Fort Magsaysay, Philippines, April 16.

Joint jungle training for the Marines was held April 24 at Crow Valley in Camp O’Donnell, Capas, Tarlac.

“We had some jungle survival classes, they showed us a couple of traps, they’re showing us now how to cook some stuff,” an American Marine said. “They showed us how to make a couple of shelters and what to use within the jungle to make your shelter.”

Balikatan means teaching US troops how to drink cobra blood

From Rappler (Apr 25): Balikatan means teaching US troops how to drink cobra blood

Philippine soldiers teach their American counterparts how to survive in a Philippine jungle

JUNGLE SURVIVAL. Filipinos show US troops how to trap and eat a king cobra for survival. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Samantha Van Winkle/Released

JUNGLE SURVIVAL. Filipinos show US troops how to trap and eat a king cobra for survival. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Samantha Van Winkle/Released

They made the US Army soldiers do it last year, and they made them do it again this year.

The elite unit of the Philippine Army, the Special Forces (SF), taught US Army soldiers how to trap and eat a snake – a king cobra, no less – as part of the jungle survival training exercises for the annual Balikatan war games. Photos of the exercises were released on Friday, April 25.

The exercises also taught the US soldiers how to find potable water and start a fire, among other necessary skills to survive Philippine jungles.

NATURAL WATER. A US soldier drinks from a cut branch. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Samantha Van Winkle/Released

NATURAL WATER. A US soldier drinks from a cut branch. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Samantha Van Winkle/Released

MAKING FIRE. US troops try to start a fire using bamboo sticks. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Samantha Van Winkle/Released

MAKING FIRE. US troops try to start a fire using bamboo sticks. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Samantha Van Winkle/Released

The biggest Balikatan war games in 15 years kicked off on Monday, April 20, against the backdrop of China's continuing reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

The deputy commander of the United States Marine Corps Forces in the Pacific, Brigadier General CJ Mahoney, stressed the need to hold exercises not only with the Philippine military but with other allied militaries in the region. (READ: US to PH: War games 'sharpening the sword and the bolo' vs bullies)
"We are also honing our lethal military skills, the core elements of the profession of arms, to allow us to inter-operate and cooperatively assist each other as well as other nations should the need arise," Mahoney said in his speech at the opening ceremonies of Balikatan 2015. 

Balikatan 2015 hailed by PHL-US soldiers, commanders

From the Phiilippine News Agency (Apr 25): Balikatan 2015 hailed by PHL-US soldiers, commanders

FORT MAGSAYSAY, Palayan City, Nueva Ecija, April 25 (PNA) -- This early, soldiers and military officers participating in the 32nd Philippines-United States Balikatan Exercise 2015 here have expressed satisfaction over its output.

Lt. Col. Joshua Higgins, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment based in Willer Army Airfield in Hawaii, said their troopers are thankful for the opportunity to experience the professionalism of Filipino soldiers and hospitality of Filipino people.

“We are thankful to see your beautiful country and meet the wonderful Filipino people,” Higgins said, adding the war games have enriched the knowledge of both ranking and ordinary soldiers from both sides.

“We appreciate the professionalism of your soldiers,” Higgins said.

The Balikatan 2015 formally started on April 20 and will last until April 30 this year.

Col. Lawrence Mina, commander of Combined Army Forces, said about 1,000 U.S. soldiers and 864 Filipino soldiers are participating in this year’s expanded military exercise inside this 73,000–hectare military reservation.

"It has field training exercise. Before, it was a bilateral exercise only here within the periphery of Fort Magsaysay,” Mina said, adding that the combined forces continue to conduct community services in select places in Nueva Ecija.

Balikatan 2015, Mina said, was carefully planned that they have pre-identified even the fly path of U.S. aircraft and a number of striker tanks.

"Due to field training exercise, it is now ordinary to see the striker tanks of Americans creeping," Capt. Mark Ruelos, head of the public information office of the Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Division (7ID), said.

Among those war equipment based in the compound are varied types of the so-called striker tanks, Howitzers assault guns and trucks.

Howitzers 47s here can be operated digitally, according to Capt. Michael Merril, chief of the U.S. Army mobile public affairs.

“This is self-loading, meaning, just take it out there and can digitally target data,” Merill said of the guns that fire 155 millimeter shells with a range of 31 kilometers.

The Howitzers can be slung underneath a CH-47 helicopter to bring to a specific location.

Included in the striker tanks which Filipino soldiers can use for the war games are mobile gun system (MGS), infantry carry vehicle (ICV) fire support vehicle (FSV) and several medical support tanks.

Specialist Madi Simpore, U.S. striker mechanic, said an MGS provides surveillance and security capabilities.

“It can go first to see what’s going on,” he said.

Some of the tanks, he added, can be loaded with 18 rounds of 105-millimeter shells and can be mounted with 15 caliber with 500 rounds.

It can shoot one round every six seconds, he said.

These artilleries are the new features of the Balikatan that is expanded from the traditional civil military operations and bilateral exercises to field training exercise (FTX), according to Higgins.

At the aviation command, 11 different kinds of U.S. Army are moving personnel and equipment from one place to another, Higgins said.

He maintained that the exercises has no connection with any current issues, particularly the upscale controversy over the Philippines and China’s claim over Scarborough Shoal.

“This is purely for interoperability of our forces,” he added.

USMC a more capable force with 'Osprey'

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 25): USMC a more capable force with 'Osprey'

United States Balikatan exercise director Brig. Gen. Christopher J. Mahoney, a qualified fighter pilot, said that MV-22B "Osprey" has given the US Marine Corps more capability in responding to conflicts and disasters worldwide.

He made this statement during an interview on the sidelines of the aircraft display portion of Balikatan 2015 which was held at Clark Air Base in Pampanga Saturday.

One of the aircraft in display was the MV-22B.

Mahoney said that having the "Osprey" in their inventory gives the USMC an immense advantage as the aircraft can carry a lot more equipment and personnel than its helicopter counterparts since it is a lot bigger.

And it can respond faster and it proceed from vertical to level flight in a matter of minutes due to its "tilt-rotor" capabilities.

Speed and load is essential when responding to conflict and disaster situations, Mahoney added.

The "Osprey" had its Philippine debut during "Balikatan 2013" which took place on April 5 to 17.

It is designed to combine the functionality of a conventional helicopter with the long-range, high-speed cruise performance of a turboprop aircraft.

The MV-22B originated from the United States Department of Defense joint-service vertical take-off/landing experimental (JVX) aircraft program which started in 1981.

The team of Bell Helicopter and Boeing Helicopters was awarded a development contract in 1983 for the tilt-rotor aircraft.

The Bell Boeing team jointly produced the aircraft.

The MV-22 first flew in 1989, and began flight testing and design alterations; the complexity and difficulties of being the first tilt-rotor intended for military service in the world led to many years of development.

The United States Marine Corps began crew training for the "Osprey" in 2000, and fielded it in 2007. It is supplementing and will eventually replace their CH-46 "Sea Knights."

The MV-22B's other operator, the US Air Force, fielded their version of the tilt-rotor in 2009.

Since entering service with the US Marine Corps and Air Force, the aircraft has been deployed in both combat and rescue operations over Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

Balikatan maneuvers 'win-win' situation for PHL, U.S.

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 25): Balikatan maneuvers 'win-win' situation for PHL, U.S.

With Balikatan 2015 maneuvers ending in a couple of days, American exercise director Brig. Gen. Christoper J. Mahoney said the joint military maneuvers between the U.S. and the Philippines is proving "highly successful".

He made this statement during the sidelights of the aircraft display portion of the Balikatan Saturday at Clark Air Base, Pampanga.

Mahoney also stressed that the military exercises, which started April 20 and will be terminated on the 30th, have created greater confidence between the U.S. and Philippine militaries.

"It's a win-win situation for the two allies," he added.

Mahoney also stressed that Balikatan 2015 is proving the biggest joint maneuvers so far as around 11,600 American and Filipino troops have engaged in land, air, and sea exercises which so far have proven very successful.

Earlier, Balikatan public information officer Lt. Col. Marlowe Patria said this year's joint exercises will be vastly different as territorial defense will be given focused by participating military forces.

He added that this is to ensure that the country's military forces has the capability to defend itself aside from helping in disaster response and community development.

"(This year's Balikatan) will be quite different as it will be focus on territorial defense aside from disaster response and community development," he added.

Patria also stressed that the decision to include territorial defense is not aimed at any nation in particular, adding that the overall goal is to ensure that the AFP will able to enhance its capability to protect the country from any threat.

(Feature) Potent American aircraft displayed in Clark Air Base

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 25): (Feature) Potent American aircraft displayed in Clark Air Base

CLARK AIR BASE, Pampanga -- Of the 12 or so American aircraft put on display in Clark Air Base, Pampanga on Saturday, the most potent and deadly is the Fairchild Republic A-10 "Thunderbolt" II.

Three A-10s were present in the aircraft display of Balikatan 2015.

The "Thunderbolt" is the United States Air Force's premier tank-busting aircraft. It is also operated by the American Air National Guard units.

It is the only USAF production aircraft designed solely for close air support, including attacking tanks, armored vehicles, and other ground targets with limited air defenses. It can be configured for the maritime strike missions.

The A-10 was designed around the 30mm GAU-8 Avenger rotary cannon that is its primary armament.

The "Thunderbolt" airframe was designed for durability, with measures such as 1,200 pounds (540 kg) of titanium armor to protect the cockpit and aircraft systems, enabling it to absorb a significant amount of damage and continue flying.

The A-10A single-seat variant was the only version built, though one A-10A was converted to an A-10B twin-seat version.

In 2005, a program was begun to upgrade the remaining A-10A aircraft to the A-10C configuration.

Aside from the A-10, also exhibited was the Boeing P-8 Poseidon, a maritime strike aircraft developed for the US Navy.

The aircraft has been developed by Boeing Defense, Space and Security, modified from the 737-800ERX.

The P-8 conducts anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and shipping interdiction, along with an electronic signals intelligence role.

This involves carrying torpedoes, depth charges, SLAM-ER missiles, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and other weapons. It is able to drop and monitor sonobuoys.

Aside from these two planes, also shown were the Boeing AV-8B "Harrier" II, a single-engine ground-attack aircraft that constitutes the second generation of the Harrier Jump Jet family.

Capable of vertical or short takeoff and landing (V/STOL), the aircraft was designed in the late 1970s as an Anglo-American development of the British Hawker Siddeley Harrier, the first operational V/STOL aircraft.

Named after a bird of prey, it is primarily employed on light attack or multi-role missions, ranging from close air support of ground troops to armed reconnaissance.

Also present was the Boeing C-17 "Globemaster" III, a large military transport aircraft. It was developed for the USAF from the 1980s to the early 1990s by McDonnell Douglas. The C-17 carries forward the name of two previous piston-engined military cargo aircraft, the Douglas C-74 "Globemaster" and the Douglas C-124 "Globemaster" II.

The C-17 commonly performs strategic airlift missions, transporting troops and cargo throughout the world. Additional roles include tactical airlift, medical evacuation and airdrop duties.