In the Military
160 from Hawaii to join exercise
About 160 sailors and soldiers from Hawaii will participate in a scaled-down version of the Balikatan military exercise, which will begin next month in the Philippines.
The exercise, which usually involves 3,000 to 5,000 troops and extensive field exercises, was initially called off on Dec. 21 by Adm. William Fallon, Pacific Forces commander, because of a custody dispute in 2005 involving convicted rapist Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith.
Smith and three other Marines were charged with the rape of a 23-year-old management accounting graduate in a van in a former U.S. Navy base while on shore leave. The other three were acquitted, but Smith was sentenced to life in prison by a Manila court in early December.
Lt. Col. Mark Zimmer, Balikatan public affairs officer at Fort Shafter, said the Philippine government later authorized transferring Smith to the United States in late December.
"However, because field training exercises requires a lot of planning, that portion was canceled," Zimmer said. But the staff or tabletop exercise, as well as medical, engineering and human civic action projects will be carried out. The tabletop exercise will involve staff from the Pacific Fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor.
The Balikatan opening ceremony will take place Feb. 19 in Manila where the staff exercise will be held, Zimmer said. He said the civic action programs will take place in the southern area of the Philippines, the country's most volatile area.
Zimmer said programs there will include improvements and establishing medical clinics to treat local residents and livestock on Jolo island, Zamboanaga City and other areas in Mindanao.
The exercise will conclude on March 4.
MAJ. Rudolph Ligsay assumed command Jan. 20 of the new 1st Squadron, 299th Cavalry, from Lt. Col. Kenneth Hara, who had taken the unit to Iraq in 2005. Besides the Baghdad deployment, Hara also guided the unit through the early stages of the unit's transition from an infantry unit to a reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition squadron.
In addition to the Hilo headquarters, the 299th has Troop A and Troop B in Pearl City/Waiawa, Oahu; and Troop C in Kapaa and in Hanapepe.
Ligsay, has served as the 299th executive officer and once commanded Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 299th Infantry, and Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 299th Infantry. He is married to the former Samantha Aolani Kailihou and has two children, Joshua and Tyson.
"In the Military" was compiled from wire reports and other sources by reporter Gregg K. Kakesako
, who covers military affairs for the Star-Bulletin. He can be reached by phone at 294-4075 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org