17K Phl-U.S.-Aussie soldiers join 2023 Balikatan drill

The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Tuesday said more than 17,700 Filipino, American, and Australian soldiers are scheduled to participate in this year’s Balikatan exercises.

Col. Michael Logico, director of the Joint and Combined Training Center, AFP Education, Training and Doctrine Command, said the United States Armed Forces’ Indo-Pacific Command will deploy 12,000 of its soldiers while 111 personnel from Australian Defense Force will join the military training exercises, the rest are Filipino soldiers.

The Western Command, Visayas Command, and Northern Luzon Command areas will serve as the staging grounds for the joint military exercises.

“We will be operating in the areas of Northern Luzon, Palawan, and Antique,” Logico said.

Australian soldiers, he added, will take part during the special operations and land-based exercises while Japanese soldiers will remain as observers during the exercises.

The AFP, he said, has invited the Japan Defense Force to join the Balikatan but the latter has begged off.

“So they will be observing just for now,” he said.

Japan Defense Force is yet to provide the number of their participant observers in the Balikatan.

Ligaco said this year’s Balikatan exercises will be the largest military training with the inclusion of the cyber defense exercise.

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