The Philippines and the United States began their largest joint military exercise in the Southeast Asian country on Tuesday (April 11), as the longtime allies seek to counter China’s growing influence in the country.
The joint maneuvers, known as “poligatan” (“aside” in Filipino), simulate China’s encirclement of the island after it completes a three-day exercise around Taiwan. Chinese officials announced on Monday that they would hold new exercises until April 20.
Rising tensions over Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of China, and the construction of new bases in the South China Sea have strengthened the partnership between Washington and Manila, which is kept under a mutual defense treaty.
Nearly 18,000 soldiers were mustered
The maneuvers, which take place each year, mobilize 12,200 US soldiers, 5,400 Filipino soldiers and more than a hundred Australian soldiers, twice as many men as in 2022. For the first time, the gun bullets were real and lasted two weeks. . One of the drills involved the landing of military helicopters on Kalayan Island, 300 kilometers south of Taiwan.
These exercises will improve “Strategies, Techniques and Procedures” Philippine Army spokesman Col. Medal Aguilar said of the wide-ranging military operations. “Through this exercise, the Philippine and US forces will improve our operational capabilities, increase our capabilities and complement our capabilities through cooperation.”U.S. Marine 1st Air Unit Gen. Eric Austin inducted at Tuesday’s opening ceremony in Manila.
This is the first time that these exercises will be held under the mandate of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who will be in power from June 2022. The latter is seeking to improve relations with Washington, hurt by his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte. To be more accommodating with Beijing.
“Web specialist. Infuriatingly humble coffee ninja. Wannabe zombie advocate. Subtly charming tv fanatic. Avid social media scholar.”