US, Philippine and South Korean marines practice storming beaches
Marines storm a beach near disputed reef in South China Sea as part of wargames featuring thousands of soldiers from US, Philippines and South Korea after Beijing’s military drills around Taiwan
- The KAMANDAG exercises between US and Philippines kicked off Monday and will go on until October 14
- Marines from both nations and South Korea stormed beach close to a disputed area in South China Sea today
- The drills were held just 150 miles off Scarborough Shoal, a territory seized by China in 2012 from Philippines
- The exercises aimed to improve Philippine military’s coastal defence capability and invasion readiness
- It comes after China held a series of huge war games off coast of Taiwan which raised alarm bells
US and Philippine marines stormed a beach near a disputed rocky outcrop in the South China Sea on Friday as part of joint military drills involving more than 3,500 troops.
The KAMANDAG exercises – the Philippines’ acronym for ‘Cooperation of the Warriors of the Sea’ – kicked off Monday and will be held across the country’s main island of Luzon until October 14.
Around 300 troops were involved in Friday’s amphibious drills held on an uninhabited beach in Zambales province, about 150 miles east of Scarborough Shoal, which China seized from the Philippines in 2012.
Photos of the drills displayed impressive scenes of platoons storming beaches from amphibious landing craft, while US marines were seen instructing Philippine soldiers on the use of specific military equipment and weaponry. A small contingent of South Korean and Japanese soldiers also took part in the drills.
It is the first time the annual naval exercises have been held under Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, who has expressed strong support for the decades-old alliance after rocky relations under his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte had threatened to cancel drills and axe a key military deal with the United States as he pivoted towards China.
But Marcos told US President Joe Biden during a meeting in New York last month that he appreciated America’s role in ‘maintaining the peace in our region’.
The joint exercises come as a US aircraft carrier simultaneously performs drills with South Korea in a week which has seen tensions soar with North Korea amid a missile launch and a series of bombing drills.
US and South Korean marines disembark from a US marine landing ship during a joint amphibious landing exercise with their Philippine counterparts at a beach facing the South China Sea in San Antonio town, Zambales province on October 7, 2022
Soldiers are seen sprinting ashore from their landing craft in a series of beach storming exercises
A US marine officer (R) gives instructions to Philippine marines wearing mission oriented protective posture (MOPP) gear and using joint chemical agent detectors during their chemical warfare exercise as part of a joint amphibious landing exercise at a beach facing the South China Sea in San Antonio town, Zambales province on October 7, 2022
Philippine, U.S., and South Korean navies participate in amphibious landing drills during a joint military exercise at a naval station in Zambales province, Philippines, October 7
Units are seen advancing up the beach in simulated coastal attack and defence drills
Philippine Marines amphibious assault vehicles maneouver next to a Philippine BRP Tarlac navy landing platform dock ship during a joint amphibious landing exercise with US marines at a beach facing the South China Sea in San Antonio town, Zambales province
South Korean marines hold a landing drill in San Antonio, Zambales province, Philippines, 07 October 2022
South Korean marines take positions during a joint amphibious landing exercise
A South Korean navy member participates in amphibious landing drills during a joint military exercise with U.S. and Philippine navies at a naval station in Zambales province
China’s recent war games around Taiwan, which it claims as part of its territory, rang alarm bells among nations surrounding the South China Sea.
Beijing claims sovereignty over almost the entire sea, while the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei have overlapping claims to parts of it.
China has ignored an international court ruling that its claims have no legal basis, and has aggressively asserted its stance.
It has built artificial islands as well as deployed hundreds of coast guard and maritime militia vessels to prowl the strategic waters, swarming reefs and harassing fishing and other boats.
One of the objectives of the joint US-Philippines drills this week is improving the Philippine military’s coastal defence capability amid these threats.
‘We are preparing for any threat that will be coming sooner or later,’ said Major Emery Torre, spokesman for the Philippine Marine Corps.
But Torre said the joint exercises held with the US did not simulate an attack by a particular country and were not related to a specific situation.
Marcos has taken a harder line on defending Philippine waters, insisting he would not let China trample on Manila’s maritime rights.
During aerial surveillance over Scarborough Shoal on Thursday, the Philippine Coast Guard spotted six Chinese vessels, including four coast guard and two militia boats, in and around the small ring of reefs.
‘We are doing the patrol operations to establish a presence at the area and also for the sake of our fishermen,’ said coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo.
As regional tensions rise, Washington is keen to preserve its security alliance with Manila, which includes a mutual defence treaty and permission for the US military to store defence equipment and supplies on several Philippine bases.
It also allows US troops to access certain military bases in the country.
Philippine Marines amphibious assault vehicles roll in during a joint amphibious landing exercise with US marines
Philippine and US marines disembark from amphibious assault vehicles during a joint amphibious landing exercise
South Korean, Philippine and US marines are pictured at a beach facing the South China Sea in San Antonio town, Zambales province on October 7, 2022
A US marine sniper aims his rifle during a joint amphibious landing exercise with their Philippine counterparts
Philippine and U.S. navies participate in amphibious landing drills during a joint military exercise at a naval station in Zambales province, Philippines, October 7, 2022
South Korean marines gather during a landing drill in San Antonio, Zambales province, Philippines, 07 October 2022
South Korean (foreground) and US marines take part in a joint amphibious landing exercise with their Philippine counterparts at a beach facing the South China Sea in San Antonio town, Zambales province on October 7, 2022
United States and Philippine marines gather on a beach during a landing drill in San Antonio after performing a series of landing drills
South Korean marines disembark on a beach during a marine landing drill in San Antonio, Zambales province, Philippines, 07 October 2022
South Korea and the United States began joint maritime exercises with a US aircraft carrier on Friday, South Korea’s military said, a day after it scrambled fighter jets in reaction to an apparent North Korean bombing drill.
The maritime drills will take place in waters off South Korea’s east coast on Oct. 7-8, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said. The drills come after North Korea launched a pair of ballistic missiles into the sea on Thursday, and later flew warplanes near the border with the South.
‘We will continue to strengthen our operational capabilities and readiness to respond to any provocations by North Korea through joint drills with… the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group,’ South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
The US strike group already participated in trilateral missile defence exercises with warships from Japan and South Korea this week, prompted by a test on Tuesday in which North Korea launched a ballistic missile that flew over part of Japan and prompted evacuations.
Senior defence officials from Japan, South Korea and the United States discussed the latest developments in a call on Friday, condemning the North Korean launches and agreeing that recent trilateral maritime drills have improved their ability to respond to North Korea, South Korea’s ministry of defence said in a statement.
South Korea scrambled 30 fighter jets after Kim Jong-un sent 12 warplanes close to the border in a bombing drill (Pictured: South Korean Air Force F-15Ks and U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jets fly over the Korean Peninsula in response to North Korea’s intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) launch earlier this week)
U.S. aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan participates with other U.S. and South Korean navy ships during the joint naval exercises between the United States and South Korea in waters off South Korea’s eastern coast
In this photo provided by South Korea Defense Ministry, South Korean Air Force’s F15K fighter jet fires 2 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition ) bombs into an island target in South Korea on Oct. 4, 2022
U.S. soldier checks the F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jet on the deck of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in Busan, South Korea
A handout photo made available by the US Department of Defense shows a South Korea-US-Japan joint naval drill in the East Sea, 06 October 2022
In a meeting with South Korean Defence Minister Lee Jong-sup, Admiral John Aquilino, the commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, said North Korea’s provocations seriously threaten the security of the region. He emphasised that his forces would actively support efforts to deter and respond to the North Korean threat, the ministry said in a separate statement.
Lee also held a meeting of senior officials to discuss the latest launches and to evaluate South Korea’s ‘three-axis’ defence system designed to counter North Korea’s military threats, including war plans that call for preemptive strikes if necessary.
‘He emphasised the need to deliver a clear message that nuclear and missile development will only create a more difficult situation for North Korea,’ the defence ministry said in a statement.
The rare bombing drill by at least eight North Korean fighter jets and four bombers on Thursday prompted the South to deploy 30 fighters. The warplanes swarmed each side of the heavily fortified border amid rising tensions over a string of missile tests by Pyongyang.
On Thursday North Korea condemned the United States for repositioning the aircraft carrier near the peninsula, saying it posed a serious threat to the stability of the situation.
In the statement, the North Korean foreign ministry also criticised Washington for calling a United Nations Security Council meeting over the launches, saying they were a ‘just countermeasure’ to the joint US-South Korea drills.
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