Kapwa nilinaw ng Pilipinas at Estados Unidos na ang taunan nilang joint military exercises ay walang kinalaman sa missile na inilagay ng China sa West Philippine Sea.
Ayon kay Lt Gen. Salamat, naka-focus ang balikatan sa kanilang mga aktibidad para lalo pang mapalakas ang kooperasyon ng dalawang bansa at palakasin ang military response.
Ang isyu sa West Philippine Sea lalo na sa patuloy na militarisasyon ng China ay hindi sakop sa Balikatan Exercises.
Ayon naman kay US exercise director Lt. Gen. John Nicholson, ang Balikatan Exercises ay taunang aktibidad at matagal na itong pinagplanuhan.
“This exercise was scheduled whether those missiles were there or not, and again this is region of change, there are constant things developing within the region but the exercise has long been planned, you know we are already, probably two weeks from now we are talking about next year’s balikatan and you can imagine all the things that will occur in the theater between now and then,” pahayag ni Nicholson.
Samantala, positibo si Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana na lalo pang mag-i-improve ang kanilang counter-terrorism activities dahil dito nakasentro ang Balikatan Exercises 2018.
“This year, Balikatan will focus on interoperability training to address traditional and non-traditional security concerns. Through this exercise, we hope to improve our counter-terrorism capabilities in order to build safer communities and work towards the eradication of global terror networks,”pahayag ni Lorenzana.