The United States and the Philippines launched the start of Balikatan 22, an annual joint military exercise, last Monday. This is the 37th iteration of the event, with this year having the largest number of participants in seven years.

“Balikatan is a critical opportunity to work shoulder-to-shoulder with our Philippine allies toward a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific that is more connected, prosperous, secure, and resilient,’ as our Indo-Pacific Strategy calls for. The U.S. is proud to continue our participation in this long-standing exercise,” U.S. Embassy in the Philippines Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Heather Variava said.

About 8,900 service members, 3,800 from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and 5,100 from the US Armed Forces, are scheduled to train together in various military and humanitarian operations. The event is hosted by the Philippines and is set to utilize various locations across the country. The exercises are scheduled to run for two weeks until April 8.

The Opening Ceremony of Balikatan 2022 at Camp Aguinaldo, Philippines (Photograph by Lance Cpl. Jonathan Willcox via Exercise Balikatan). Source: https://www.facebook.com/exercisebalikatan/posts/279574037691067
The Opening Ceremony of Balikatan 2022 at Camp Aguinaldo, Philippines (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Jonathan Willcox via Exercise Balikatan|Facebook)

“During Balikatan, the U.S. military and AFP will train together to expand and advance shared tactics, techniques, and procedures that strengthen our response capabilities and readiness for real-world challenges,” 3rd Marine Division Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Jay Bargeron said.