6 more nations to join PH-US joint exercises

Australia, Brunei, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand will take part in this year’s Balikatan joint military exercise to be held in the Philippines next month, apart from the host and the United States, a Philippine military official said here Sunday.

They will participate in the Multinational Maritime Security Roundtable Discussion for the upcoming Balikatan Exercise 2013, which will run from April 5 to 17, said Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

However, the six countries will not be taking part in the actual field training exercises which will be limited to Filipino and US forces alone, Burgos added.

“The roundtable discussion seeks to determine specific humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in high-traffic international waters, and build response confidence among multi-national partners,” said Burgos.

“The event will be one of the highlights of this year’s military exercise wherein more than 8,000 soldiers from the AFP and US military are set to participate,” he said.

Burgos said the annual Balikatan exercise seeks to “further promote and foster the existing friendship” between the two countries and “advance the security and stability of the region in the near future.”