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Philippines, U.S. Begin Annual Naval Exercise

Published Oct 8, 2012 4:16 PM by The Maritime Executive

Today, the Philippines and the United States began this year’s Philippine Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) in an attempt to enhance cooperation and interoperability between both countries. 

The ten-day exercise consists of over 2,000 U.S. troops and 1,600 Filipino troops. The marines will conduct fire exercises, simulated helicopter raids, a demo of American aircraft capabilities, and public service activities.

The PHIBLEX is an annual affair, but this year it coincides with growing tensions between a number of nations in the South China Sea. According to the New York Times, it will focus on disaster aid, humanitarian assistance, and maritime security.

The United States said last year that it would increase joint training exercises and ship visits to the region. The decision was made as part of a turn toward Asia to counter the rising impact of China.

China and the Philippines are presently entangled in a territorial disagreement over a group of small islands. The cluster is about territorial control, but it is also well-known that the islands inhabit an area rich in resources.

China and Japan are also involved in a similar dispute over small islands near natural resources. Other regions active in the debate include Vietnam, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Brunei.

The PHIBLEX 2013 opening ceremony was held about 150 miles from the Panatag Shoal, a zone within the Philippines that is being claimed by China.