Monday, October 10, 2016

US, Philippines Conduct Perhaps Their Last Joint Drills |

US, Philippines Conduct Perhaps Their Last Joint Drills | U.S. and Philippine Marines stormed ashore Friday on Luzon island in a joint military exercise which President Rodrigo Duterte has said will be the last between the two longtime allies.

Hundreds of troops landed on the west coast of the Philippines' main island in 13 assault amphibious vehicles launched from the dock landing ship USS Germantown as part of this month's annual PHIBLEX exercise.

Each of the floating armored vehicles transported six Filipino and six American Marines to the shore. As the personnel carriers emerged from the surf and advanced on their tracks across the sand, explosives detonated inland to simulate support fire.

The vehicles drove on through a swamp and engaged an imaginary enemy with blank rounds, while hundreds of Philippine sailors and Marines watched from the beach.

The cooperation among the two countries' troops contrasted with the increasingly sharp rhetoric between the governments in Washington and Manila after Duterte took office June 30. Duterte has pushed back angrily at complaints by the U.S. and the European Union that his anti-drug campaign, the signature issue of his election campaign, has produced widespread human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings.

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told Filipino reporters Friday that plans for joint U.S.-Philippine patrols and naval exercises in the disputed South China Sea have been put on hold.