Philippines, USA conduct coastal defense drills amid China tensions - M5 Dergi
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Philippines, USA conduct coastal defense drills amid China tensions

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In a show of strategic cooperation amid escalating tensions in the South China Sea, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and U.S. military conducted a joint counter-landing exercise.

The exercise, part of the Balikatan maneuvers, focused on defending the Philippine coastline against potential threats, particularly in light of recent maritime disputes with China.

During the live-fire exercise, combined forces honed their defensive capabilities by targeting floating and mock-enemy targets along the coast. This joint effort aimed to enhance the readiness of both Philippine and U.S. troops to safeguard Philippine sovereignty within its territorial waters and exclusive economic zone.

U.S. Marine Lt. Gen. Michael Cederholm, commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force, lauded the seamless coordination and skill displayed during the training, emphasizing the shared commitment to defending Philippine interests. The exercise showcased the preparedness of both forces to respond effectively to any security challenges in the region.

The comprehensive exercise featured a range of weaponry, including the FGM-148 Javelin missile and M3A1 Multi-Role Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapon System (MAAWS), small arms, machine guns, and artillery fire from various units. This integrated approach demonstrated the strength of the military partnership between the Philippines and the United States in ensuring regional security and stability.

Amidst ongoing diplomatic tensions and recent maritime incidents with China, the exercises underscored the importance of bolstering defense capabilities to address potential threats effectively. The South China Sea remains a contentious area, with disputes over key features within Manila’s exclusive economic zone intensifying geopolitical tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Central to these disputes are contested features like the Scarborough Shoal and Second Thomas Shoal, where China’s expansive territorial claims clash with Philippine sovereignty. As both nations navigate these challenges, joint exercises like Balikatan serve as a crucial component of efforts to uphold regional security and protect national interests.

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