The Philippines and the United States, which composed of more than eleven thousand troops alongside with the Australian defense forces, started yearly “Balikatan drills”, Monday to rapidly react to a scope of potential emergencies and it also includes crises in the disputed West Philippine Sea.
The activities have been angered and opposed lately by China, which has territorial disputes in the South China Sea with the Philippines and also countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei, and Indonesia.
Beijing opposed and suspects this is a combine strategy efforts to contain China. Washington and Manila respond, saying the drills are not directed against China, and that they also focus on responding to humanitarian crises and natural disasters.
During the 11 days Balikatan drill exercises, United States Defense Secretary Ash Carter sets to fly to the Philippines to witness the progress of the event. Underscoring the significance Washington puts on the joint combat drills that have been arranged 32 times, said U.S. Marine Lt. Gen. John Toolan, who heads the 5,000 American military workforces partaking in the moves.
Toolan, who heads U.S. Marine forces in the Pacific, said at a news conference, that the presence of Defense Secretary Carter on this event “reaffirms that the relationship we have with the Philippines is rock strong, solid and we’re next to each other side by side.
He said that “A highly mobile rocket system that has been deployed in hot spots such as Afghanistan will be used during the Balikatan, or Shoulder to Shoulder, exercises for the first time and We are very, very expeditionary. We can move this stuff anywhere we need to.”
Philippine Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez, who heads the contingent of about 3,500 Filipino military personnel involved in the exercises said, “The Philippines is the least capable armed forces in the region, and the U.S., being a big brother, is a big help.” – Robert Beerlak