ABC News reports:
“Up through April 28, more than 17,600 military troops will participate in the yearly exercises by the longtime treaty partners known as Balikatan, which is Tagalog for “shoulder to shoulder.” It would be the latest demonstration of the American firepower throughout Asia while the Biden admin. expands an arc of partnerships to better challenge China, including a potential clash over Taiwan, which is an island of democracy which Beijing declares as its own.”
The account on Twitter called III MEF Marines, which bills itself as being the “Official III Marine Expeditionary Team | Forward positioned Marine Aviation Ground Task Force headquartered in Okinawa, Japan,” expressed support for the maneuvers and the people of the Philippines.
It is the largest collaborative exercise since Balikatan began 30 years ago, with 12,200 US military troops, 5,400 Filipinos, plus 111 Australians participating. The drills will feature US warships, Patriot missiles, fighter jets, anti-tank Javelins, and HIMARS missile launchers, according to officials. The combined forces are capable of sinking a ship:
“On April 26, the United States and Filipino forces are going to sink an intended target ship in Philippine waters off of the western Zambales province in a live-fire drill that the allies will stage, a Philippine spokesperson for Balikatan, Colonel Michael Logico, told reporters. This will be done through a coordinated inland as well as coastal airstrike and artillery.”
The exercises began a day after China completed three days of combat training in which they simulated shutting off Taiwan. The chance of China invading the island nation has heightened tensions between the two heavyweights. According to RedState’s Nick Arama, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has recently met with Taiwanese President Tasi Ing-Wen, which enraged the Chinese. In retaliation, they sanctioned the Reagan Library and its officials and simulated precision missile attacks on the island on Sunday.
The relevance of our joint drills was emphasized by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin:
When the event was originally publicized, he commented, “It’s a big deal. This is part of our attempt to upgrade our alliance, which is especially important given the People’s Republic of China’s illegitimate claims in the West Philippine Sea.”
Despite the fact that the exercises were prepared months in advance, they serve as an obvious warning to the CCP. However, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. stated that the US would be unable to use his nation’s bases for military operations:
“We won’t permit our military bases to be utilized for offensive action,” Marcos warned on Monday, ahead of the commencement of the yearly military drills between the two countries. “It is only intended to assist the Philippines when they need assistance,” he stated, according to an assertion from his communications office.