Filipino, US troops war games begin amid maritime tensions

Filipino, US troops start annual exercise amid Beijing's moves in South China Sea

US exercise director, Brigadier-General Chris McPhillips (centre), unfurling a flag of the 35th Balikatan exercise between the Philippines and the US during the opening ceremony in Manila yesterday. The war games are being held to enhance interoperab
US exercise director, Brigadier-General Chris McPhillips (centre), unfurling a flag of the 35th Balikatan exercise between the Philippines and the US during the opening ceremony in Manila yesterday. The war games are being held to enhance interoperability of the militaries, testing response time to disasters and external threats, and dealing with terrorists.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

More than 7,500 Philippine and US troops began their largest annual military exercise yesterday, amid reports of Chinese encroachments into waters surrounding the largest Philippine-held territory in the disputed South China Sea.

This year's Balikatan exercise involves 4,000 Filipino and 3,500 American soldiers. About 50 Australians are also participating.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2019, with the headline 'War games begin amid maritime tensions'. Print Edition | Subscribe