The Straits Times
Published on Nov 11, 2012

Australia troops eyed to join US-Philippine drills


MANILA, Philippines (AP) - Philippine defence officials say they have discussed the possibility of Australian forces joining large-scale annual combat exercises between Filipino and American troops.

The Philippine Department of National Defence said the possible inclusion of Australian troops in future "Balikatan" or "shoulder-to-shoulder" exercises - annual military drills joined by thousands of American and Filipino forces - was discussed with Australian officials in a recent defence cooperation meeting in Manila.

The Philippine Senate in July ratified a bilateral accord allowing Australian forces to join combat exercises in the Philippines.

Philippine defence department spokesman Peter Paul Galvez said on Sunday that the proposal to include Australia in the Balikatan exercises was at a preliminary stage and would need to be discussed with the US military in the future.