United States officials announced on Tuesday that the Philippines and the United States would begin the largest-ever combined military exercises in the archipelago country next week, demonstrating their strong defence ties in the face of rising Chinese aggressiveness.
In the 12-day war exercises on the main island of Luzon, which are generally held every year but were postponed or curtailed due to the epidemic, over 9,000 Filipino and American troops would take part, according to the Philippine military.
The exercises, which begin on March 28 and will last for three weeks, will cover a variety of topics including marine security, live-fire training, counterterrorism, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief, according to a statement from the US embassy.
According to Major General Jay Bargeron, commander of the US 3rd Marine Division, “(Both sides) will train together to enhance and improve common tactics, methods, and procedures that will increase our reaction skills and preparedness for real-world problems.”
Recent moves between the long-time allies have centred on the possibility of a clash in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims nearly entirely as its territory.
China has disregarded a 2016 judgement by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which found that its historical claim lacked foundation.
Construction of artificial islands over disputed reefs, as well as the installation of armaments on them, have bolstered the country’s position.
The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam are among the countries that have asserted rival claims to the seas.
As a result of the Philippines’ confrontation with China’s ambassador over a Chinese military ship detected unlawfully “lingering” in its archipelagic seas, tensions between Manila and Beijing have risen significantly in recent weeks.
It should be noted that the drills will take place in the shadow of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, where the United States and its allies are supplying defensive weaponry to Kiev while inflicting punishing economic sanctions on Moscow.
As a result of the Philippines’ security partnership with the United States, President Rodrigo Duterte voiced alarm on Monday that the country has been “engaged” in the battle.
A mutual defence pact and authorization for the United States military to keep defensive equipment and supplies on multiple Philippine bases are among the provisions of the agreement.