Philippines, US begin smaller-scale joint military exercises

Philippines, US begin smaller-scale joint military exercises”

This year the exercises will focus only on counter-terrorism and disaster relief, the heads of the Philippine and USA delegations said at the opening ceremony at the national military headquarters in Manila.

The changes were made at the behest of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who has been at odds with the USA and Europe over his extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers and users, as well as reluctance to provoke China over disputed territory in the South China Sea.

Balikatan or "shoulder-to-shoulder" is a comprehensive joint military exercise between the US and its treaty ally, the Philippines.

His Filipino counterpart, Lt. Gen. Oscar Lactao, said the exercise priority was chosen based on the guidance from Duterte. "That fits well whether it is a conventional force operation or humanitarian disaster relief", according to Stars and Stripes.

Lactao is the Philippine exercise director for Balikatan 2017 and Nicholson is the exercise director for US.

Officials from both sides spoke in glowing terms at the opening ceremony for Balikatan (meaning "Shoulder-to-shoulder") about the upcoming exercise and their nations' military relations.

Philippines, US kick off annual joint military exercise

USA personnel involved in Balikatan aren't disappointed about the changes, he said.

Nicholson, in the same press briefing, said that anytime they get a chance to work with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is a privilege for them.

Duterte has in his 10 months in office sought to weaken ties with the United States, the Philippines' mutual defence treaty partner and former colonial ruler that he has said is diminishing as a global superpower.

This year's exercise, scheduled to last until May 19 focuses on humanitarian and disaster response operations, and search and rescue activities in urban areas in Nueva Ecija, Aurora, Isabela and Samar provinces.

"I'm confident there will be a Balikatan next year and the year after that", he said. "And so we are looking forward to a great couple of weeks", Nicholson said.

"I would not say we are limited to where we are now", he said. Frank Sayson said this was in line with scenario of this year's exercises which involves a massive storm or typhoon coming from the Pacific which will then pass through Eastern Visayas going to the National Capital Region, reaching maximum strength upon arrival on the northern tip of Luzon, and leaving behind severe devastation.

Like this


08 May 2017
Kylie Jenner snaps star-studded selfie in Met Gala bathroom
From almost naked to extreme layers, the range of eccentricity was vast at the much-anticipated red carpet event of the year. NEW YORK (AP) - Kylie Jenner found an unlikely spot for a star-studded selfie at the Met Gala: the museum's bathroom.

08 May 2017
Swansea survival would be biggest achievement - Clement
Paul Clement says Swansea do not intend to waste their Premier League lifeline after becoming masters of their own destiny. He said: "I don't say anything". "It's been done by the players and led by Leon, and we hope they get up there safely".

08 May 2017
Pakistan, Afghanistan dispute toll after clashes
The attack triggered intense fighting with government forces that sent civilians fleeing toward the provincial capital of Kunduz. The Pakistani and Afghan armies have been clashing at the border crossing in southwestern Baluchistan province since Friday.

08 May 2017
ASEAN statement to go easy on Beijing over South China Sea dispute
Under Article 20 (4) of the Charter, the ASEAN Summit may on such occasions meet and take action. There are hesitations at this point because we are expecting at least a mention of the ruling.

06 May 2017
US test fires ballistic missile from California coastal base
The US Air Force test-launched an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile from California early Wednesday, the military said . A similar test occurred April 26, a scheduling quirk after the delay of test previous year and not a response to global tensions.

06 May 2017
Gander Mountain slashing prices; Myrtle Beach location 'going out of business'
Sporting goods chain Gander Mountain may be closing all North Texas stores, including the Frisco store that opened last September. Gander Mountain originally filed for bankruptcy in March.

06 May 2017
Judge: No injunction for Iowa abortion waiting period
According to the petition, the new law is one of the strictest requirements in the nation on women seeking an abortion. A signing ceremony is slated for 8:30 a.m., at the state Capitol building.

06 May 2017
Reporter says Fox News fired her for using harassment hotline
Golloher complained about the disparate treatment she received as compared to her male peers", the complaint state. A Fox News spokesperson also denied the allegations, saying the network would "vigorously defend the matter".

06 May 2017
FL House, Senate Appear Close To Settling Cannabis
The Senate proposal ( SB 406 ) was on Wednesday's calendar, but was temporarily postponed. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando.

04 May 2017
Eight militants die in US strike in Afghanistan
The Afghan National Security Forces are not doing well in the fight against the Taliban since end of the USA combat mission in 2014.