US, Philippine forces hold combat drills to brace for crisis

Oct 2, 2022, 10:10 PM | Updated: Oct 3, 2022, 8:01 am
Marines from Philippines, Japan, South Korea and the United States carry their flag during opening ...

Marines from Philippines, Japan, South Korea and the United States carry their flag during opening ceremonies of an annual joint military exercise called Kamandag the Tagalog acronym for "Cooperation of the Warriors of the Sea" at Fort Bonifacio, Taguig city, Philippines on Monday Oct. 3, 2022. More than 2,500 U.S. and Philippine marines launched combat exercises Monday to be able to jointly respond to any sudden crisis in a region long on tenterhooks over the South China Sea territorial disputes and ChinaÅfs increasingly hostile actions against Taiwan. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

(AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — More than 2,500 U.S. and Philippine marines joined combat exercises Monday to respond to any sudden crisis in a region long on tenterhooks over South China Sea territorial disputes and increasing tensions over Taiwan.

The annual military drills are the first major exercise between the longtime treaty allies under newly elected Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., military officials said. His predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, was an outspoken critic of U.S. security policies and frowned on military exercises with American forces he said could offend China.

Called Kamandag, the Tagalog acronym for “Cooperation of the Warriors of the Sea,” the drills involve 1,900 U.S. Marines and more than 600 mostly Philippine counterparts in mock amphibious assaults and special operations, U.S. and Philippine military officials said. America’s HIMARS missile launchers and supersonic fighter jets will take part in live-fire maneuvers that will end on Oct. 14, they said.

The venues include the western island province of Palawan, which faces the South China Sea, and the northern Philippines, across the Luzon Strait from Taiwan.

Philippine Rear Admiral Caesar Bernard Valencia said the exercises will focus on enhancing coastal defenses and are not directed against any country.

Japanese and South Korean forces will participate as observers but may join in disaster-response drills, he said.

The military maneuvers are being held simultaneously with combat exercises between U.S. Marines and Japanese army forces on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido that involve about 3,000 military personnel from the two sides, U.S. military officials said.

U.S. Maj. Gen. Jay Bargeron of the Japan-based 3rd Marine Division said the simultaneous exercises are aimed at bolstering the defensive capabilities of the U.S. alliances with the Philippines and Japan “through realistic combined training.”

“These exercises will allow our forces to strengthen interoperability and readiness to ensure we are prepared to rapidly respond to crisis throughout the Indo-Pacific,” Bargeron said in a statement.

“Our strength, resolve and commitment to our allies and partners in the region are our most effective deterrent,” U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Kurt Stahl told The Associated Press. “Together, we can deter potential adversaries from ever testing our capabilities or our relationships.”

In July, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on China to comply with a 2016 arbitration ruling that invalidated Beijing’s vast territorial claims in the South China Sea and warned that Washington is obligated to defend the Philippines under a 1951 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty if Filipino forces, vessels or aircraft come under attack in the disputed waters.

The ruling was issued by an arbitration tribunal set up in The Hague under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea after the Philippine government complained in 2013 about China’s seizure of a shoal off its northwestern coast. China did not participate, called the arbitration decision a sham and continues to defy it.

In addition to China and the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims in the busy waterway, where an estimated $5 trillion in goods passes each year and which is believed to be rich in undersea gas and oil deposits.

Separately, U.S. President Joe Biden said last month that American forces would defend Taiwan if Beijing tries to invade the self-ruled island, sparking protests from China.

The long-simmering sea disputes and the increasingly tense relations between China and Taiwan have become key fronts of the U.S.-China rivalry.

___

Associated Press journalist Aaron Favila contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              A member of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force passes by a sign during opening ceremonies of an annual joint military exercise called Kamandag the Tagalog acronym for "Cooperation of the Warriors of the Sea" at Fort Bonifacio, Taguig city, Philippines on Monday Oct. 3, 2022. More than 2,500 U.S. and Philippine marines launched combat exercises Monday to be able to jointly respond to any sudden crisis in a region long on tenterhooks over the South China Sea territorial disputes and China"s increasingly hostile actions against Taiwan. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Marines from Philippines, Japan, South Korea and the United States carry their flag during opening ceremonies of an annual joint military exercise called Kamandag the Tagalog acronym for "Cooperation of the Warriors of the Sea" at Fort Bonifacio, Taguig city, Philippines on Monday Oct. 3, 2022. More than 2,500 U.S. and Philippine marines launched combat exercises Monday to be able to jointly respond to any sudden crisis in a region long on tenterhooks over the South China Sea territorial disputes and ChinaÅfs increasingly hostile actions against Taiwan. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

AP

Associated Press

American Museum of Natural History names new president

NEW YORK (AP) — The American Museum of Natural History on Tuesday said it had chosen college president Sean Decatur to become its next president, making him the first Black leader of the institution. Decatur, currently the president of Kenyon College in Ohio, will succeed Ellen Futter in April of next year, the museum said. […]
20 hours ago
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Ky., arrives for a news conference with members of the S...
Associated Press

Trump’s Constitution remarks put McConnell, GOP on defense

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell delivered another rebuke of former President Donald Trump on Tuesday, saying that anyone who thinks the Constitution can be suspended would have a “very hard time” becoming president in the United States. The comment marked the second time in as many weeks that McConnell and other Republicans […]
20 hours ago
FILE - Tugboats, bottom, align a barge near the container ship Ever Forward, top, which ran aground...
Associated Press

Coast Guard faults pilot in Chesapeake Bay ship grounding

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Coast Guard investigation into the grounding in March of a cargo ship in the Chesapeake Bay faulted the pilot tasked with helping the ship navigate the waterway, saying he relied too much on one piece of equipment to navigate and was on his cellphone in the runup to the grounding. In […]
20 hours ago
Activists hold up posters during a rally against Indonesia's new criminal law in Yogyakarta, Indone...
Associated Press

Indonesia’s Parliament votes to ban sex outside of marriage

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia’s Parliament unanimously voted on Tuesday to ban sex outside of marriage and insulting the president and state institutions. Once in force, the bans will affect foreign visitors as well as citizens. They’re part of an overhaul of the country’s criminal code that has been in the works for years. The […]
20 hours ago
Leaders attend the plenary session of the Mercosur trade bloc summit in Montevideo, Uruguay, Tuesda...
Associated Press

Tensions over trade deals exposed at Mercosur summit

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) — A summit of the four Mercosur nations exposed tensions Tuesday as Uruguay’s eagerness to seek out foreign markets collided with opposition from Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou said his country must “open up to the world” and it intends to negotiate a free trade agreement with China […]
20 hours ago
A driver fills up his car while sign on pump reads 'Dear Costumers! You can purchase only 2 liters ...
Associated Press

Hungarian government scraps year-old ceiling on fuel prices

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungary’s government cancelled a state-imposed cap on fuel prices late Tuesday after a recent wave of panic-buying among motorists led to fuel shortages and long lines at filling stations across the country. The prices of gasoline and diesel at fuel pumps will be set according to market rates as of 11 […]
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
US, Philippine forces hold combat drills to brace for crisis