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    Posted May 20, 2014 by
    Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington

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    Arrowhead Soldiers return to JBLM following successful completion of multi-national mission in Philippines

    JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Soldiers from 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division returned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord from the Philippines Sunday after the successful completion of a three-week multinational, joint forces exercise with Soldiers from the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

    While in the Philippines, leaders from the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment partnered with the AFP to provide subject matter expertise that enabled Filipino Soldiers from the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region headquarters to execute a joint, combined arms, live-fire training event, said Lt. Col. Jarett Broemmel, the commander for 2-3 Infantry "Patriots" and Officer-in-Charge of the "Arrowhead" Brigade's Task Force Balikatan.

    "The Arrowhead Brigade team partnered with the JTF-NCR team again this year and built upon the planning processes refined last year by including training on preparation for and execution of a Joint Combined Arms Live fire exercise," Broemmel, an Illinois native, said.

    Exercise Balikatan 2014 took place May 5- 16 on the island of Luzon, Republic of the Philippines. This is the second consecutive year the annual bilateral exercise has teamed up members from 3-2 SBCT with Filipino service members from the JTF-NCR.

    During the exercise, AFP and U.S. personnel from the Arrowhead Brigade conducted a bilateral, scenario-based staff planning exercise at Camp Aguinaldo in Luzon that included two days of academics and two days of crisis-action planning. The tabletop exercise schedule led into simulation-supported, scenario-based training.

    The STAFFEX at Camp Aguinaldo, in Manila, was in advance of a combined live-fire exercise at Crow Valley Gunnery Range, near Clark Air Base, that showcased Philippine, American and Australian armed forces operating together in concert to achieve a common objective.

    In the live-fire scenario, service members from throughout the AFP simultaneously stormed their objectives by air and land, utilizing multinational rotary wing support, indirect fire, close air support and ground forces.

    "As a member of the Arrowhead brigade, the Patriot Battalion team … partnered with the AFP (to) provide subject matter expertise to the JTF headquarters executing the … joint, combined arms, live-fire training event," Broemmel said.

    Though the spirit of the exercise is on the Philippine-U.S. partnership and commitment to the mutual defense treaty, it is also in keeping with the regionally aligned mission of the Arrowhead Brigade, partnering with nations within the Pacific region.

    "By participating in the Balikatan Exercise these last two years, the Arrowhead Brigade has developed greater insight into the regional security challenges in the eastern Pacific and has also reinforced the partnership between the US Army and a longtime regional ally," Broemmel said.

    Partnering can be military-to-military training, providing disaster relief and humanitarian assistance, and sharing intelligence and interoperability.

    It may also include "engagements and interactions between us, our allies and partners -- and even potentially our adversaries," said Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, commander, U.S. Army Forces Command, during a forum on regionally aligned forces last year.

    Soldiers from 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, have been aligned with Pacific Command since last year, conducting training exercises with allies from Australia, Japan and the Philippines over the last several months. These exercises help the Arrowhead Brigade maintain relationships with their RAF allies, such as the Philippines.

    "It's all about relationships," said Capt. Cory Kastl, the assistant operations officer for 2-3 Infantry, and a resident of Midland, Mich. "Balikatan is really about a joint partnership between two allied nations. Whether you're doing a live-fire or STAFFEX, if you're partnering with a foreign army, you're building relationships you're always going to have."

    Exercise Balikatan 2014 was the 30th iteration of the exercise and intended to promote regional peace and security by ensuring the interoperability and readiness of Philippine and U.S. forces. “Balikatan” is a Filipino term that means “shoulder-to-shoulder” and characterizes the spirit of the exercise, focusing on Philippine-U.S. partnership and commitment to the mutual defense treaty.

    This year's exercise comes in the wake of President Obama's visit to the Philippines earlier this week where he affirmed that "at the invitation of the Philippines, American service members will rotate through Filipino facilities."

    Though Exercise Balikatan has ended, Soldiers from the Arrowhead Brigade hope this will not be the last time they train alongside the AFP, as Soldiers from both countries have expressed a desire to foster their partnership based on sustained U.S.-Philippine military cooperation and friendship.

    “The Balikatan 2014 once again proved that the enduring alliance between the Philippines and the United States is a pillar for peace in Southeast Asia and the greater Asia Pacific,” said AFP Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, at the closing ceremony of the Balikatan 2014 in Camp Aguinaldo last Friday.
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