Joint US-Filipino Balikatan 2018 military drills begin in the Philippines

Filipino and US troops have kicked off the 34th annual Balikatan military drills, which will run until May 18. The main focus of the exercise will be to polish the skills required to properly respond and act during counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief operations. The annual military training exercises are being conducted under the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) signed nearly 70 years ago, after the US relinquished control of its former colony. Part of the exercise will include an amphibious landing drill to simulate possible responses in case of an invasion. Australia and Japan will also take part in the exercise. While it remains unclear how many American and Philippine troops are participating this year, roughly 5,400 personnel took part in the drills in 2017.