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Independent News For The Australian Public Service
Edition Number 408. Updated Tuesday, 06 May 2014

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ADF deploys to regional exercise

Australian Defence Force personnel are participating in a major regional exercise in the Philippines focusing on humanitarian and disaster relief.

Wing Commander Nicholas Pratt from the Royal Australian Air Force, who is leading the Australian contingent, said Exercise BALIKATAN was an annual Republic of the Philippines-United States bilateral military training exercise and humanitarian assistance engagement.

Wing Commander Pratt said some 31 ADF personnel had already joined the exercise and would play a supporting role in Exercise BALIKATAN on the islands of Luzon and Palawan.

He said a further 37 ADF members would deploy on May 8 to the exercise area, bringing the total Australian Defence Force commitment to 68.

Joint disaster training in Philippines

Wing Commander Pratt said military medical personnel would offer medical, dental and veterinary care, while military engineers would construct and repair schools and other community infrastructure in selected communities.

Wing Commander Pratt said the ADF had been called on to support a number of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions throughout the region in recent years.

"We saw from Operation PHILIPPINES ASSIST last year how important it is to practise scenarios that require us to be part of a multi-national response effort," he said.

"Exercise BALIKATAN presents a perfect opportunity for us to work closely with our regional allies to respond quickly and work together effectively to provide military support in the event of another natural disaster or crisis."

Wing Commander Pratt said this was the 30th annual bilateral exercise.

"The ADF is a professional and highly trained force, capable of delivering effective support to these types of exercises and humanitarian assistance engagement with partner nations," Wing Commander Pratt said.

The exercise will conclude on 16 May 2014.

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