US, Philippines hold combat drills to brace for possible crisis in South China Sea, Taiwan
- Called Kamandag the Tagalog acronym for ‘Cooperation of the Warriors of the Sea’ – the drills involve mock amphibious assaults and special operation
- Drills in the Philippines are being held simultaneously with combat exercises between US Marines and Japanese forces on Japan’s island of Hokkaido
Called Kamandag the Tagalog acronym for “Cooperation of the Warriors of the Sea” – the drills involve 1,900 US Marines and more than 600 mostly Philippine counterparts in mock amphibious assaults and special operations, US and Philippine military officials said. America’s HIMARS missile launchers and supersonic fighter jets will be in live-fire manoeuvres that will end on October 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.
The military manoeuvres in the Philippines are being held simultaneously with combat exercises between US Marines and Japanese army Self-Defence Forces on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido that involve about 3,000 military personnel from both sides, US military officials said.
“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,” US Marine Lieutenant Colonel Kurt Stahl said. “Together, we can deter potential adversaries from ever testing our capabilities or our relationships.”
In July, US 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 obliged to defend the Philippines under the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty if Filipino forces, vessels or aircraft come under attack in the disputed waters.