U.S. joint military exercises kick off in Luzon

Lt Gen Emmanuel B Salamat AFP PH Exercise Director BK 18 His Excellency Sung Y Kim US Ambassador to the Philippines Defense Sec Delfin Lorenzana AFP Chief-of Staff Lt Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr and Lt Gen Lawrence D Nicholson US Exercise Directo

Lt Gen Emmanuel B Salamat AFP PH Exercise Director BK 18 His Excellency Sung Y Kim US Ambassador to the Philippines Defense Sec Delfin Lorenzana AFP Chief-of Staff Lt Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr and Lt Gen Lawrence D Nicholson US Exercise Directo

The exercises will feature amphibious beach landings, live-fire manoeuvres and combat drills in mock urban settings to train special forces in battling terrorists such situations as seen in Marawi city past year.

The 12-day exercises began less than a week after United States network CNBC reported that the Chinese military had over the past month installed anti-ship and air-to-air defenses on islands also claimed by the Philippines.

"This year's Balikatan will not only focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, which, are of course, very important here in the Philippines, but will also incorporate training identified in the post-Marawi action reports such as military operation in urban terrain", US Ambassador Sung Kim said.

About 8,000 combined USA and Philippine troops will take part in Balikatan 2018, along with a small contingent from the Australian and Japanese armed forces.

Filipino Soldiers launch a joint amphibious landing with US Soldiers on the shores of Casiguran, Aurora as part of the Civil Military activities from the sea of the 17th US-Philippines Balikatan excercises.

Some 3,000 United States soldiers will join 5,000 Filipino soldiers in the 34th Balikatan Exercise in the Philippines this week amid reports of heightened militarization of artificial islands in South China Sea.




"This is focusing mostly on countering terrorism... that will allow us to respond to a similar scenario in the future", Salamat said.

He said that the combined military exercise will enable the two militaries to "deliver a more effective response when operating together" whether in a "natural disaster" or "man-made crisis". "We must always be prepared to act alone, and that is our most advantageous course, but many of our security objectives are best achieved or can only be achieved through our alliances and other formal security structures", Lorenzana said.

"This special bilateral event is made even more meaningful by the participation of our close partners, Japan and Australia".

"Throughout (the) Balikatan (exercises) Philippines and U.S. forces will be working shoulder to shoulder in information exchanges and live training events".

"This exercise was scheduled already whether those missiles were there or not and again, this is region of change".

The opening of the Balikatan exercises today.

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