Philippines and the United States began a routine military joint exercise called “Balikatan” on Philippine Luzon Island on March 28. A total of 8,900 military personnel, including 3,800 Filipino soldiers and 5,100 American soldiers participated in the largest-ever exercise, according to the U.S. military.
The military drills will cover maritime security, live-fire training, amphibious operation, counterterrorism, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. The drills will deepen their military alliance and enhance their inter-operability with the aim of deterring Communist China, which is stepping up its maritime expansion in the Indo-Pacific region.The “Balikatan” exercise was cancelled in 2020 during the Pandemic. It started again after the size was reduced in 2021.
Recent exercises between two countries focused on potential conflict in the South China Sea, which Communist China has grown to be a security threat to its Southern Sea neighbors. At the opening ceremony, U.S. Major General Jay Bargeron said the “friendship and trust” between their armed forces would allow them to “succeed together across the entire spectrum of military operations.” He also said, “plays an important role in maintaining peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region.”