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US Military Drills in Philippines
International

US Military Drills in Philippines

Philippine and US soldiers began their biggest combined military exercise in 15 years on Monday, in a demonstration of Washington’s commitment to its long-time ally as it rebalances to Asia in the face of China’s expansion in the South China Sea.
The annual “Balikatan” (shoulder-to-shoulder) war games are part of a new US military initiative known as Pacific Pathways, involving a series of drills across the Asia-Pacific as America deploys more troops, ships and aircraft in the region.
“The exercises this week are part of a US rebalance to Asia starting with Balikatan in the Philippines,” Major-General Raul del Rosario told Reuters as more than 1,000 US Army troops joined the drills at a jungle army base.
Pacific Pathways, which Washington says is part of a plan to establish a “semi-permanent” US presence in Asia, will comprise 29 exercises across 12 countries in the region over the next five years.
The exercise comes a few days after the Philippines said it was seeking more “substantive” support from the United States on how to counter China’s rapid expansion in the South China Sea.
China’s rapid reclamation around seven reefs in the Spratly archipelago of the South China Sea has alarmed claimants, including the Philippines and Vietnam, and drawn growing criticism from US government officials and the military.

 

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