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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Tuesday, August 21, 2018

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PHL, US Marines conduct exercises near China-held reef

Military exercise on a Philippine beach

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SAN ANTONIO - Over 6,000 Philippine and US marines carried out a military exercise on a Philippine beach Sunday near a disputed reef occupied by Chinese ships which has become a potential regional flashpoint.
 
The American and Filipino troops, aboard five US amphibious, armored assault vehicles landed on the deserted beach facing the South China Sea in the latest in a series of combat exercises that began on September 29.
 
With the USS Germantown amphibious dock landing ship overseeing events from the sea, the Filipino and American troops rushed from their vehicles and took up combat positions.
 
"The US has always been a good ally of the Filipinos and if they need our assistance, we will be here for them and we think this exercise really reinforces that," said Lieutenant Colonel Robert Rice, an officer of the US training staff.
 
However he declined to link the exercise to China's growing restiveness in the region, saying such talk was "speculation."
 
His Filipino counterpart, Lieutenant Colonel Dennis Hernandez said the exercises were intended to boost the capabilities of a marine amphibious brigade, based in the island of Palawan, the closest outpost to the South China Sea.

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