PHILIPPINES/UNITED STATES: The operation of a live-fire exercise on a ship that had sunk in the South China Sea would be commenced by the United States and the Philippines, which would comprise the largest-ever military drills.
In this yearly event called Balikatan, which means “shoulder to shoulder” in Tagalog, more than 17,000 soldiers participated, including approximately 12,200 American troops, 5,400 members of the Philippine Armed Forces, and other representatives from various countries. These drills are estimated to conclude on April 28.
In a statement that was published by the US Embassy last week, Colonel Medel Aguilar said, “The Balikatan Exercise enhances both the AFP and the United States Armed Forces’ tactics, techniques, and procedures across a wide range of military operations,” adding, “It increases our ability to work together effectively and efficiently in response to various crises.”
Balikatan Combined Joint Information Director, Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Huvane, mentioned in a statement, “Balikatan provides unparalleled opportunities to demonstrate the strength and readiness of the Philippine-US security alliance.” He also added that these exercises were “important investments” to strengthen the military ties between the US and the Philippines.
Beijing’s broad claims to most of the South China Sea have led to more pressure on the Philippines from China. Manila blamed the coastguard in China. In February for implementing a “military grade laser” on a Philippines crew in a navy ship that was opting to go to the Second Thomas Shoal, called the Ayungin Shoal in the Philippines, on a resupply mission to the country’s important economic hub.
Recently, the Philippines permitted the US access to a lot of its military bases in light of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the two countries.
Even though there were some protests when Balikatan started because people were afraid that Manila would be pulled into a bigger fight, surveys show that most Filipinos want closer ties with the US.
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