News / USA

US, Philippine Forces End Joint Maneuvers

U.S. and Philippine Marines board a CH-53 to prepare for a water insertion exercise to practice jumping from the chopper into water for raids and humanitarian assistance, Philippine Marine Base Gregorio Lim, Ternate, Cavite, Sept. 20, 2013. (Simone Orendain/VOA)U.S. and Philippine Marines board a CH-53 to prepare for a water insertion exercise to practice jumping from the chopper into water for raids and humanitarian assistance, Philippine Marine Base Gregorio Lim, Ternate, Cavite, Sept. 20, 2013. (Simone Orendain/VOA)
x
U.S. and Philippine Marines board a CH-53 to prepare for a water insertion exercise to practice jumping from the chopper into water for raids and humanitarian assistance, Philippine Marine Base Gregorio Lim, Ternate, Cavite, Sept. 20, 2013. (Simone Orendain/VOA)
U.S. and Philippine Marines board a CH-53 to prepare for a water insertion exercise to practice jumping from the chopper into water for raids and humanitarian assistance, Philippine Marine Base Gregorio Lim, Ternate, Cavite, Sept. 20, 2013. (Simone Orendain/VOA)
Simone Orendain
More than 2,000 U.S. and Philippine marines finished three weeks of joint amphibious exercises in the northern Philippines Friday, capping the year’s joint training agenda, which officials of both countries hope will be expanded in the near future.  But the U.S. government shutdown has cast a shadow as the two governments talk about more U.S. troop visits to the Philippines.  

The bilateral exercises closed on a day that President Barack Obama was supposed to go the Philippines.  But he canceled his visit because of the U.S. government shutdown.  Secretary of State John Kerry was scheduled to go in his stead, but Kerry’s trip was canceled Thursday afternoon because Manila was about to be battered by a typhoon.

Despite the nixed trips, Visiting Forces Commission Executive Director Edilberto Adan said the Philippines remains reassured by its partnership with the United States.

“We have our common values.  We want a democracy that is alive.  Both our nations respect the rule of law.  We want freedom of navigation of our seas.  So this alliance is emphasized through these exercises that these two nations remain committed to the purpose, to the objectives, of the Mutual Defense Treaty,” Adan stated.

Negotiators from the Philippines and the U.S. are currently combing through the Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement to work out how the Philippines will accommodate more frequent U.S. troop visits.

The U.S. wants easy access to areas where it could dock ships, land planes and have equipment positioned and ready to use.  Philippine negotiators say the plan fits well with their weak and aging military’s $1.8 billion upgrade program, and add that having more training opportunities with a visible American presence would help form a “minimum credible defense posture.”  The Philippines is in a territorial dispute with China over rocks and outcroppings in the South China Sea, which China claims almost entirely.

While the details of the agreement were being scrutinized by the parties in several rounds of talks in Washington and Manila, marines from both countries carried out exercises in waters near disputed territory.

On a windy Friday in Ternate, Cavite - about 220 kilometers southeast of the contested Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea - a massive CH-53 helicopter whirred above the choppy water of a small beach.  A few dozen marines in full gear jumped out of its belly aiming for rubber boats below.

The troops were practicing entering locations through water for military raids and humanitarian purposes.

This was not the first time Philippine marines practiced the maneuver.  But Philippine Marines spokesman Vince Salmingo said it was an important activity to share with U.S. counterparts.

“The new thing here is as much as possible we try to… avail of a new unit to do this.  Our other guys were able to undergo the same training before," Salmingo explained. "But for this particular exercise… it is going to be a new unit but the same training.”

The pending agreement makes clear that there will be no U.S. bases in the Philippines, which closed down century-old American installations in 1992 under domestic pressure. The Philippine negotiators say they do not expect any doubling of the thousands of troops that come every year for joint activities.  

The Mutual Defense Board, comprised of both countries’ officials, is meeting next week to plan the coming year’s joint exercises.  Undersecretary Adan said they hope to have additional training scheduled under the anticipated agreement.

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More