Australia, New Zealand and allied countries from Southeast Asia are acting as observers.

The annual Balikatan 2022 maneuvers with the participation of almost 9 thousand American and Filipino servicemen began in the Philippines. The opening ceremony of the exercises, which will last until April 8, took place on Monday in Quezon City on the island of Luzon.

According to the commander of the 3rd Marine Division, Major General Jay Bargeron, the current maneuvers are not a demonstration of force in the region.

“Not at all,” he said, answering the relevant question. “Balikatan 2022 is an amazing opportunity for training; the exercises are aimed at improving our security and defense capability, as well as readiness to respond to any crisis anywhere.”

“I would also say that the maneuvers are designed to increase our interoperability, strengthen cooperation in all areas and, of course, to promote peace and stability in the region,” the ABS -CBN media group quotes him as saying.

During the two-week exercises, special attention will be paid to maritime security, live firing training, amphibious, urban and aviation operations, the fight against terrorism, as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. “Balikatan” also includes command and staff exercises that test the ability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the United States to plan, command and communicate with each other in a simulated environment.

The Balikatan exercises are being held in the country for the 37th time. Last year, due to the pandemic, they were held in a shortened format. This year, Australia, New Zealand and allied countries from Southeast Asia are acting as observers.