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U.S.-Philippine Mass Military Exercise ‘Balikatan’ Now Underway

April 23, 2024 (EIRNS)—The US-Philippine “Balikatan” exercise, which is aimed at confrontation with China, is fully underway. US Naval Institute News reported yesterday that, while smaller than last year’s exercise by almost a thousand troops, the three-week-long 39th iteration of Balikatan will focus on several high-end coastal defense activities, including counter-landing and sinking exercises, on the western coasts of the provinces of Palawan and Luzon near the South China Sea and the Luzon Strait, which is roughly 300 km south of Taiwan.

Of the 16,000 troops slated to participate in the exercise, 11,000 of them come from the U.S. Marine Corps, Army, Navy, and Air Force. Smaller contingents from Australia and, for the first time, France, will also participate in a multilateral maritime exercise in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. Fourteen countries have been reported as observers of the drills.

One of the features of the exercise is the deployment and participation of the US Army’s Mid- Range Capability missile system, capable of firing both Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles and SM-6 missiles. While it’s unclear what activities the Mid-Range Capability will partake in during Balikatan, Philippine military officials confirmed that it will get fired in the country during another exercise later this year.