U.S. troops not disappointed with scaled-down 'Balikatan'

US and Philippine military officials attend the opening ceremony of joint military exercises called Balikatan in Manila the Philippines

US and Philippine military officials attend the opening ceremony of joint military exercises called Balikatan in Manila the Philippines

This year's Balikatan exercises will focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster response and fighting terrorism.

The scaled-back exercises come after Duterte changed the Philippines' foreign policy, distancing the country from Washington and aligning itself more with China with whom it has signed several cooperation agreements and has proposed strengthening defence ties.

During a trip to Beijing a year ago, Duterte, a self-described socialist, announced that he was in the "ideological flow" of China's communist rulers.

Opening rites for the "Balikatan" or "Shoulder-to-Shoulder" exercises were led by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim at the Philippine military's headquarters in metropolitan Manila.

The 11-day joint training exercise between Filipino and American troops was opened at Camp Aguinaldo by exercise directors Lt. Gen. Oscar Lactao and Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, with the latter saying they were expecting a "great" exercise with their counterparts.

"The continuing conduct of this important exercise can be regarded as a testimony to a much anticipated, fruitful relationship.", he said.

Delegates link arms during the opening ceremony of the Balikatan Exercises between the Philippines and the United States in Quezon City, the Philippines, May 8, 2017.

U.S. troops not disappointed with scaled-down 'Balikatan'

The priority of (President Rodrigo Duterte) is HADR (humanitarian assistance and disaster relief) and counter-terrorism. There are any number of ways it can change.

Trump even invited Duterte to the White House, in a move that riled human rights activists who claim Duterte wantonly ordered the deaths of drug suspects.

Bilateral ties have warmed under Obama's successor, Donald Trump, but Duterte has continued to signal his preference for building stronger relations with China and Russian Federation. It can be bigger, it can be smaller.

Soldiers from Japan and Australia are also taking part in the "Balikatan" or "Shoulder-to-Shoulder" exercises in Manila, as was the case previous year, local media reported.

The Philippines endures about 20 major storms a year that sweep in off the Pacific Ocean, many of them deadly. "And so we are looking forward to a great couple of weeks", Nicholson said.

This year's exercises will be based on a scenario of troops responding to a super typhoon in the Philippines.

Phoenix man arrested for series of shootings that left several dead
Most of the attacks took place between 2015 and July of 2016 in a predominantly Latino neighbourhood of the Arizona city. Smith said she had grown frustrated over the past year as detectives kept her in the dark about the investigation.

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