BARANGAY BAHILE, Philippines, — U.S. Army soldiers with the 324th Psychological Operations Company, Detachment 1230 visited the barangay, or village, Bahile, to inform community members about exercise Balikatan 2015 and strengthen relationships with the Philippines, April 23.
These soldiers support BK15 as part of the Military Information Support Operations team and converse with the Palawan populace on barangay issues as well as what BK15 is intended to accomplish in the Philippines.
During their visit to Bahile the team was able to tour the barangay with community leaders and build upon the U.S. military and Philippine relationship.
U.S. Army Capt. Jesse Kittel, 324th PSYOP Company, Det. 1280 officer in charge, explained why his team visits various communities to not only talk about BK15, but to also understand each barangay’s way of life.
“It’s much more than just building schools, it’s all about showing the partnership between the United States and the Philippines, especially with their Armed Forces,” Kittel said.
MISO communicates the purpose and partnership of BK15 to as many people as possible.
“We want the Philippines to see BK15 as a strong bond,” Kittel said. “Even if we may not be present in their barangay or building them a school, we still need to communicate the importance of what Balikatan is.”
BK15 is an annual Philippines-U.S. bilateral military training exercise and humanitarian civic assistance engagement that takes place on the islands of Luzon, Palawan and Panay, Philippines, from April 20-30.
The exercise in Palawan focuses on a series of HCA projects to foster Philippine-U.S. relationships and combined civic assistance capabilities. During these events, AFP and U.S. personnel conduct multiple medical, dental, veterinary, and engineering civic action projects in the communities.
U.S. Army Spc. Edward Shipp, Det. 1230 PSYOP specialist , 324th PSYOP Company, said that the trip to Bahile was a successful visit.
“It was great, they were very receptive of us partially because our driver is part of that barangay,” Shipp said. “When we went there they were very friendly and we saw that relationship start to evolve and become that partnership that the U.S. wants as well as the Filipinos.”
Arman Nunez, the MISO team’s exercise driver who has lived in Bahile, has seen the effects of BK15 daily.
“It’s definitely a big opportunity to my fellow Filipinos,” Nunez said. “It’s a great privilege to all of us because the U.S. is helping hand-in-hand together with our Filipino soldiers. When we need help they give aid by constructing buildings. It’s a big help for us.”
Nunez helped his U.S. counterparts hang banners throughout his barangay and supports BK15 with the hope that sometime in the future Bahile may be an exercise site designated for construction.
“For me, I’m very excited since I’ve been a part of Balikatan,” Nunez said. “Hopefully my barangay will be a part of the next series of constructing buildings. I’m hoping for next year or someday, maybe my barangay will get a building.”
Shipp hopes the work BK15 service members are doing will enhance the Philippine-U.S. partnership.
“For me personally I hope that the footprint we leave is not the buildings but the legacy,” Shipp said. “It’s more than just constructing buildings. It’s really about the relationship that the Filipinos have with the United States.”
This year marks the 31st iteration of the exercise, which is an annual Philippine-U.S. bilateral military training exercise and humanitarian civic assistance engagement.
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