American and Filipino military have undertaken their largest combat exercises.

Joint military training involving thousands of US and Filipino soldiers began on Monday in the Philippines, as Beijing’s growing assertiveness in the region heightens concerns about a conflict.

The annual exercises, called “shoulder to shoulder” or Balikatan in Tagalog, will primarily occur in the country’s western and northern regions, near potential hotspots like Taiwan and the South China Sea.

About the military exercise

The exercises, which will go until May 10, will include around 11,000 American and 5,000 Filipino troops, as well as Australian and French military personnel. France will also dispatch a warship to participate in a joint exercise with Philippine and US forces. Fourteen countries from Asia and Europe will participate as observers.

American and Filipino military drill

Philippine Colonel Michael Logico disclosed that, for the first time, the maneuvers will stretch beyond the Philippines’ territorial seas, which are around 22 kilometers from its shore.

The drills will simulate sinking a “enemy ship” and recapturing an island.

Last year’s maneuvers, involving 17,600 Philippine and American troops, were the largest Balikatan exercises since their inception in 1991.

US strengthening his relation with other countries

In reaction to China’s expanding influence, the US has strengthened relationships with countries in the Asia-Pacific area, particularly the Philippines.

Washington and Manila are treaty friends who have strengthened their defense relations since Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos took power in 2022.

While the Philippines is weakly armed, its closeness to the South China Sea and Taiwan would make it an important ally of the United States in the event of a conflict with China.

“The purpose of the armed forces, why we exist, is really to prepare for war,” Philippine Colonel Michael Logico told reporters prior to the drills.

, , , ,