Home' Army News : May 18th 2017 Contents May 18, 2017
ABOUT 80 ADF person-
nel have deployed to the
Philippines for Exercise
Balikatan 2017, an
annual exercise hosted by
the Armed Forces of the
Philippines (AFP) and US
This is the fourth time
ADF members have partici-
pated in the exercise, which
this year began on May 8
and ends on May 19.
Assessment Air-Cdre Noel
Derwort, of HQJOC, said
Australia’s commitment to
building regional capacity.
“This exercise allows us
to build on our strong rela-
tionship with the AFP while
with US Pacific Command,”
“This year’s exercise has
already seen ADF person-
nel return to Ormoc City
on Leyte Island where they
made an important contri-
bution to the recovery from
Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.”
The exercise includes a
command post component,
humanitarian civic assis-
tance program on Leyte
and Samar Islands, and a
range of activities involving
an Air Force AP-3C Orion
maritime patrol aircraft and
personnel from Socomd.
Carpenters get their hands dirty in the Philippines on Exercise
Balikatan, SSgt Peter Reft reports.
CROSS-cultural learning has
taken on a new dimension as
Australian and US military
engineers learn alternative
ways of getting building tasks done
in the Philippines.
Cpl Steven Mlinaric and Spr Joshua
Park, both carpenters with 6ESR,
learnt their trades under the framework
of Australian building authorities. They
bring a wealth of knowledge to the
team, as do the soldiers of the Armed
Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Attached to the US Air Force’s 733
Civil Engineer Sqn, members of which
are working alongside the Filipinos,
the two Australian carpenters have
found themselves gaining valuable
lessons in Ormoc City, Leyte, during
Exercise Balikatan 2017.
Cpl Mlinaric says he usually just
orders building sand and it’s good to
“Here, I’ve learned how to screen
sand the old fashioned way, and the
Philippine soldiers are good at making
do with what they have to get the job
done,” he says.
In Ormoc City, the land is more
resource-rich than it is technologi-
cally advanced, which enables simpler
methods of construction to take the
stage, with AFP engineers showing
the Australians and Americans how to
work without high-tech machinery.
Spr Park says his biggest challenge
is building with minimal tools.
“But it’s also the greatest thing
about working here, because we learn
what the Filipinos can do with next to
nothing, making their own tools from
local materials,” he says.
Australian Army carpenters are
often tasked with construction projects
in remote areas of Australia, and Cpl
Mlinaric appreciates learning alter-
native techniques from the Filipino
“One day we may not have a
machine that we need, and now we
know how to do it a simpler way,” he
The teamwork between Australians,
Americans and Filipinos to overcome
the challenges of cultural differences
and learning new skills may be a new
experience for most of the engineers on
Leyte, but it is a familiar scenario for
Balikatan’s 33rd iteration.
Maj Scott Kelley, of the US Air
Force, is the site commander at Margen
Elementary School in Ormoc City.
He says the Australian and US
troops are a familiar team due to com-
mon deployments, and are familiar
with working alongside each other.
“So we can put our guys and
Filipinos together, and they can find
a middle ground between their differ-
ences to accomplish the mission,” he
Spr Park says despite many people
meeting for the first time, different
units had no trouble getting along.
“They welcomed us in and it felt
like we were part of the team straight
away. It was pretty good to come here
and walk into that kind of environ-
ment,” he says.
Cpl Mlinaric says with everybody
working toward the same goal, build-
ing classrooms for Ormoc children
turned an empty lot of dirt and grass
into a crossroad of cultural enlighten-
ment and career development.
“My favourite things about this
mission are working alongside the US
and Filipino personnel, meeting new
people and learning about different
cultures,” he says.
“I love my construction work and
they do, too, so we all get along, have
our laughs, and we can get a job done
together that benefits the school and
community of Ormoc.”
They welcomed us
in and it felt like we
were part of the
team straight away.
Cpl Steven Mlinaric,
Airman 1st Class Nicholas Evans and Cpl Steven
Mlinaric, of 6ESR, screen sand.
Australian, US and Filipino soldiers at work in Ormoc City,
US airmen and Australian soldiers lay a concrete floor in a
building at Margen Elementary School in Ormoc City.
US and Australian personnel screen sand during the
Spr Joshua Park, of 6ESR, chats with Filipino children in Ormoc City during Exercise Balikatan 2017.
Photos: SSgt Peter Reft, US Air Force
A sapper from 6ESR applies
floor concrete to a school
building in Ormoc City during
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