UK to join Balikatan as observer

THE United Kingdom might join the “Balikatan” (shoulder-to-shoulder) workout routines between the Philippines and the United States as an observer

in 2022, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) stated on Thursday.

Gen. Jose Faustino Jr., the AFP chief, in a digital briefing, disclosed following the annual Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board (MDB-SEB) assembly that there have been “ongoing talks” on the UK participation.

Faustino was joined by Adm. John Aquilino, commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command.

Aquilino stated he would comply with the lead of Faustino, “as this is his exercise to determine the nations that he would like to participate in and I will be supportive of his decisions.”

In the earlier Balikatan drills, each Australia and Japan had been granted observer standing.

Faustino stated that having the observer standing wouldn’t routinely enable international locations take part within the workout routines.

As an instance, he stated that Japan and Australia would simply ship a small contingent that may observe the sequence of drills being carried out by troops from the Philippines and the US.

“If we compare it with the US, we have a treaty [with them] and they can participate in the exercises, which is not allowed [for those with observer status] if we do not have an existing treaty with these countries,” Faustino confused. “So, they are just here to observe and they cannot participate in the exercises.”

Aquilino, alternatively, cited additionally as an instance that Washington additionally makes use of observer standing at any time when they host joint drills with a accomplice nation.

“It helps the nations who have not participated in these larger, complex events understand the intricacies, the commitments, the preparation, so the term ‘observer status’ is not anything specifically or special to Balikatan,” he stated.

“It’s a way to [welcome] other countries into our events and many nations execute the same construct,” Aquilino added.

The Balikatan earlier this 12 months carried out army workout routines amid the continuing Covid-19 pandemic throughout the globe.

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