Tuesday, December 13, 2016

US, Philippines Cancel Annual Amphibious-Landing Drill | Military.com

US, Philippines Cancel Annual Amphibious-Landing Drill | Military.com: The U.S. and the Philippines have canceled next year's PHIBLEX amphibious landing exercise -- a move that has been in the cards since President Rodrigo Duterte called for an end to the maneuvers in September.

"In 2017, PHIBLEX will not be executed," Marine Capt. Rachel Nolan, a liaison officer at the U.S. Embassy in Manila said in an email Monday.

This year's PHIBLEX, which stands for Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise, brought 1,400 Marines from Okinawa's 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade to the Philippines to practice amphibious landings and complete live-fire training alongside 500 Philippine troops.

However, the October exercise was conducted under a cloud after Duterte made negative comments about the U.S. soon after taking office in June.

With a reputation as a tough-talking maverick, Duterte has generated public admiration for bluntly -- and often profanely -- telling the U.S. and other world powers to butt out of his brutal war on drugs while leaving his spokesman and Cabinet ministers to clean up the mess.

In September, he called for U.S. special operators assisting in the archipelago's fight against Islamic extremists to leave Mindanao island, and said he won't allow his navy to conduct joint patrols with foreign powers near the South China Sea, apparently scrapping an agreement his predecessor reached with the U.S.

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana now says the country will not allow its territory to be used as a staging ground for U.S. patrols, according to The Associated Press.