Shouldering the Faith: Chaplains gather during Exercise Balikatan for expertise exchange
May 10, 2013
Article by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua Bare
MANILA - U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps Chaplains gathered at Camp Aquinaldo April 11 for a Subject Matter Expert Exchange (SMEE) to share work knowledge with their counterparts from all four branches of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The exchange is one of many that took place during Balikatan 2013, an annual bilateral training exercise that fosters interoperability between Philippine and U.S. armed forces.
The exercise featured training for military personnel from the highest echelon command element down to the lowest ranked individual of both militaries. Community Relation Projects (COMREL), Cooperative Health Engagements (CHE), and SMEEs are just a few training opportunities both militaries use to build and strengthen their long lasting friendship.
The focus of the SMEE was to share "Caring for the Caregiver" techniques. These techniques ideally will help chaplains understand their roles in caring for one another and how that can differ from caring for the individual warfighter.
Participants agreed the SMEE worked to educate and strengthen the already strong bonds between U.S. and Filipino partners.
"The benefits we see are granted by the opportunities that we are given when junior and mid-grade officers have the chance to trade expertise and their techniques with each other which allows them to build friendships, which could very well bare the fruit of peace for future generations and prevent coming conflicts, said Col. Don Holdridge, U.S. Army chaplain corps. "
"This SMEE was a great assistance to me and will help with the responsibilities that I have, thank you for this and our continued friendship," said Lt. Col. Bernardo Odfina, Deputy Chaplain, Philippine Air Force.
"If I can do something to help my Filipino counter parts then I will," concluded Cmdr. Andrew Wade, Marine Forces Pacific. "I want that to be the legacy of my ministry and friendship to those who I have had the privilege of meeting today."