U.S. and the Philippines Hold Largest Joint Exercises in 30 Years in a Show of Force to China

The US and the Philippines commence joint combat exercises. (Credit: III MEF Marines)

The U.S. and the Philippines began their largest joint combat exercises in decades Tuesday, making a show of force on land as well as in the disputed South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait. It’s a clear message to the Chinese as Washington has repeatedly warned the CCP over its aggressive actions in the area.

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From ABC News:

The annual drills by the longtime treaty allies called Balikatan — Tagalog for “shoulder-to-shoulder” — will run up to April 28 and involve more than 17,600 military personnel. It will be the latest display of American firepower in Asia, as the Biden administration strengthens an arc of alliances to better counter China, including in a possible confrontation over Taiwan, an island democracy that Beijing claims as its own.

The Twitter account III MEF Marines, which describes itself as the Official III Marine Expeditionary Force | Forward deployed Marine Air Ground Task Force based in Okinawa, Japan,” tweeted their support of the maneuvers and the Filipino people:

It’s the largest joint exercise since Balikatan started 30 years ago, and involves 12,200 U.S. military personnel, 5,400 Filipinos, and 111 Australians. Officials said the drills will include some serious firepower, including U.S. warships, fighter jets, Patriot missiles, HIMARS rocket launchers, and anti-tank Javelins. The combined forces will even sink a ship:

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In a live-fire drill the allies will stage for the first time, U.S. and Filipino forces will sink a target ship in the Philippine territorial waters off the western province of Zambales on April 26, in a coordinated inland and coastal artillery bombardment and airstrike, Col. Michael Logico, a Philippine spokesman for Balikatan, told reporters.

The exercises commenced a day after China ended three days of combat drills of their own in which they simulated sealing off Taiwan. The possibility that China will eventually invade the island nation has caused increased tensions between the two superpowers. As RedState’s Nick Arama reported, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy recently met with the leader of Taiwan, President Tasi Ing-Wen, which infuriated the Chinese. In response, they sanctioned the Reagan Library and Library officials, and on Sunday simulated precision missile strikes against the island.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stressed the importance of our joint exercises:

“It’s a big deal,” he said of the event when it was first announced. “This is part of our effort to modernize our alliance, and these efforts are especially important as the People’s Republic of China continues to advance its illegitimate claims in the West Philippine Sea.”

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Although the exercises were planned long in advance, they are nevertheless a clear warning to the CCP. However, Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the U.S. would not be able to use his country’s bases for offensive maneuvers:

  “We will not allow our military bases to be used for any offensive action,” Marcos said on Monday ahead of the start of the two allies’ annual joint military exercises. “It is only meant to help the Philippines, when the Philippines is in need of help,” he said, according to a statement from his communications office.

The exercises conclude April 28.

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