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