Smaller mil­i­tary drill be­gins

New Straits Times - - World -

MANILA: Philip­pine and the United States troops yes­ter­day kicked off their an­nual joint ex­er­cises, al­beit smaller in scale than in years past, fo­cus­ing on dis­as­ter re­sponse and coun­tert­er­ror­ism, while ex­clud­ing ter­ri­to­rial de­fence oper­a­tions and mar­itime se­cu­rity.

The changes were in­structed by Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte, who has an an­tag­o­nis­tic stance to­wards US se­cu­rity poli­cies.

Open­ing rites for the “Ba­likatan” ex­er­cises were led by De­fence Sec­re­tary Delfin Loren­zana and US Am­bas­sador Sung Kim at the mil­i­tary’s head­quar­ters here.

Of­fi­cials say 5,400 per­son­nel — 2,600 Amer­i­cans and 2,800 Filipinos — will be in­volved, or about half of 11,000 troops who took part last year.

AFP PIC

A US Marine colour guard march­ing dur­ing the open­ing of the an­nual Philip­pines-US mil­i­tary ex­er­cise at Camp Aguinaldo, Que­zon City, sub­ur­ban Manila yes­ter­day.

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