CAMP AQUINO, Philippines - U.S. Army, Pacific, as the Executive Agent for Pacific Command\'s Balikatan-11,, met with their Armed Forces of the Philippines counterparts Sept. 20 through 24 at the Northern Luzon Command here for the Balikatan 2011 Operational Planning Team conference."The yearly Balikatan exercise serves as a venue for joint and combined training between the Philippine and U.S. militaries," said Philippine Army Col. Eduardo Collado, NOLCOM operations officer. "This exercise puts in place what the Mutual Defense Board hopes to achieve, a mechanism for one to aid the other in the event of external aggression."The purpose of the week-long conference was to integrate each U.S. Service Component staff section with its counterpart from the Armed Forces of the Philippine Northern Luzon Command and begin the staff analysis and planning for next year's Command Post Exercise. Contrasting from years past, when Balikatan was conducted as a bilateral exercise between the PACOM and NOLCOM commands, this year the two partnering nations formed a Combined Task Force."The conference enhanced partnership and enabled planning and preparation for the upcoming Balikatan-11 Command Post Exercise," said Maj. Matthew Alden, USARPAC CCP Intelligence officer.The Operational Planning Team, led by the Contingency Command Post, consisting of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps personnel from both the US and Philippine militaries, conducted mission analysis and course of action development at the NOLCOM headquarters in Tarlac.Collado said he was very pleased with the collaborative efforts of both staffs during the event."Participating in the Operations Planning Team activity has provided a great opportunity to test the Philippine capability for planning its defense, transitioning to bilateral external defense and post conflict response, like HA/DR and restoration of basic government services," he said."It also enabled me to gain more knowledge in the conduct of joint and combined planning on conceptual warfare."The Balikatan-11 Final Planning Conference is scheduled for Nov. 2010, when the two staffs will come together once again to finalize and publish the plan for the Command Post Exercise, which will take place early next year during the annual training event.