losangelesnewstoday.com
losangelesnewstoday.com June 22, 2017


Rodrigo Duterte Philippines, US launch smaller military exercises

10 May 2017, 03:04 | Katrina Lee

PH-US Balikatan exercises kick off

Philippines, US kick off annual joint military exercise

American and Philippine forces kicked off a muted version of the annual Balikatan military exercise Monday, just months after the country's leader threatened to scrap the drills following USA criticism of his drug war.

Duterte ordered these changes after US President Barack Obama criticised the death toll incurred from the Philippine's War on Drugs, with Duterte saying that he planned to eventually end the drills as he saw little benefit for his country's troops.

Officials say 5,400 personnel from the both sides will be involved, or about half of 11,000 troops who took part previous year. Since taking office last June, he has taken a softer stance than his predecessor toward territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea and has ordered some of the joint drills scrapped.

"The scope of this year's exercise has changed and HADR and counterterrorism are two critically important areas of concern for both of our nations, for all other nations, so I think there's a lot of work to be done".

THE Philippines and the United States formally opened on Monday the Balikatan, with a United States military official looking forward to its success despite the pruning of activities as wanted by President Duterte.

Duterte also mentioned during his visit to China in October past year that he wanted to chart a more independent foreign policy from Washington.

Kerala Congress got hurt during UDF rule
Mani also dismissed the UDF's threat that the KC (M) had closed the door to returning to the UDF by aligning with the CPI (M). Eight KC (M) members supported Congress candidate Sheela Thomas who was elected as the vice-president of the panchayat.

The Balikatan (Shoulder to Shoulder in English) exercises started in 2002, with the objective of launching a global campaign against terrorism after the infamous September 11, 2001 terror attack on New York's twin towers. Later, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said Duterte was misunderstood and that he was referring to US-Philippines patrols beyond Manila's territorial waters.

The US and Philippines on Monday began their main annual military exercises with a smaller number of troops than previous years and also limited to anti-terrorist operations and disaster response.

His Filipino counterpart, Lt. Gen. Oscar Lactao, said the exercise priority was chosen based on the guidance from Duterte.

Only two of the military's unified commands will join this year's "Balikatan" exercises with American soldiers.

The focus of the activities in the "Balikatan" (meaning "shoulder-to-shoulder") exercises has also shifted from live-fire manoeuvres to drills involving humanitarian and disaster relief operations.

It's a privilege for USA forces to train with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Nicholson added.



Other News

Trending Now

US Servicemember Killed Fighting Al-Qaeda Affiliate in Somalia
USA forces were accompanying members of the Somali National Army on the mission against Al-Shabab, the AFRICOM statement said. Thomas Waldhauser met with Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo last month to discuss the U.S.

Levee breaks in Arkansas as record flooding continues to plague the region
A school bus trying to drive on a flooded road got stuck and almost tipped over near the town of Iowa, Louisiana. At least seven people have been killed due to the severe storms and heavy flooding in Arkansas since April 26.

Trump signs executive order to 'vigorously promote religious liberty'
His words drew some skepticism and criticism in light of his ban on Muslims traveling into the United States and his insistence on building a wall along the border with Mexico.

Thomas lobbies for calls with Celtics-Wizards series tied
This is a most lopsided 2-2 series, and the fact that it's 2-2 serves as a reminder of how fickle the playoffs can be. Celtics: It's the first time in Thomas' playoff career that he has fallen short of 20 points in consecutive games.

Could Manchester United's Going All in on Europa League Backfire?
We have four games left that we need to approach in the same way as today. "Today, no problem. They had a couple of chances in the first half but so did we and ours were the big chances.

'Huge' explosion at Damascus airport
The Shiite group is aligned with Iran and is fighting in Syria alongside forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Things are getting tense between Israel and Syria, with the latest provocation coming before sunrise Thursday.

Nigeria president attends Friday prayers amid health woes
The director general of the agency, Oke was suspended and being investigated over his claim that the huge sum belonged to NIA. She says some prominent Nigerians are demanding that he take medical leave amid questions about his fitness to govern.

Neymar to stand trial for fraud, corruption allegations
Barcelona forward Neymar has been ordered to stand trial in a Spanish court over allegations of fraud and corruption. Neymar has been accused of helping to hide the true transfer fee of his move from Santos to Barcelona in June 2013.

After Uttar Pradesh, two suspected ISI agents arrested in Mumbai
It is said that ISI had trained Aftab and that he was in regular contact with the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi. During interrogation, names of some more persons cropped up, the official said, adding more arrests are likely.

Thousands of people fill arena to hear from Warren Buffett
At Wells Fargo there were three very significant mistakes, he says, but the biggest problem was the bank's incentive system. For most of his career, Buffett avoided technology stocks, saying the companies were outside his expertise.