U.S. and Philippines to hold joint drills amid tensions with China

Exercises on such a scale would mark the largest ever such trainings between the U.S. and the Philippines.

Published: March 15, 2023 3:24pm

Updated: March 15, 2023 4:41pm

The United States will hold joint military drills with the Philippines next month amid mounting tensions in the Pacific Rim and increasing diplomatic hostility between Beijing and Washington.

The Balikatan exercises will take place from April 11-28, the Washington Times reported. Participating will be 12,000 U.S. troops, 5,500 Philippines personnel and roughly 100 Australian troops, according to the Philippine military. 

Exercises on such a scale would mark the largest ever such trainings between the U.S. and the Philippines.

Said drills will include myriad operations, including coastal defense and live-fire naval exercises in the South China Sea, a maritime region that has become of prime importance for Beijing's economic expansion.

News of the drills comes the same week that the U.S. began joint training exercises with the South Korea military amid renewed fears of North Korean aggression. Such drills had been suspended under former President Donald Trump, who had pursued diplomatic talks with Pyongyang.

South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo indicated this week that such drills were necessary to discourage their northern neighbor from further saber rattling, saying "[w]ithout exercises, it is impossible to retain adequate levels of deterrence... That was a mistake of the last five years."

The flurry of U.S. military activity in the Pacific may draw attention from Beijing, during a time of increased tension between China and the U.S. The two nations have recently quarreled over visits by U.S. politicians to Taiwan, which China claims as its sovereign territory, and prospective Chinese supply of lethal aid to Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. 

In Washington, the House of Representatives has begun to hold hearings on U.S.-China relations.

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on Twitter.

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