US, Philippines Cancel War Games

Drill Will Focus on Humanitarian Exercises

With Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte interested in moving away from his country’s traditional military alliance with the United States, the annual Balikatan war games, scheduled for next month, have been scrapped, and replaced with a much smaller drill.

The new drill, instead of focusing on fighting a major war with the Philippines involved, will focus on joint humanitarian operation, simulating a joint reaction if a large typhoon hit the central Philippines. US officials say this is designed to meet the “current challenges of the Philippines.”

Clearly, that’s not what US officials wanted, however, with the Pentagon long seeing the Philippines as a central part of a future naval war with China. That’s been a sore spot for Duterte, who has made it clear he wants nothing to do with a war against China.

Indeed, if Duterte had his way, the drill probably wouldn’t happen at all, as he’s sought to shift away from joint operations entirely, while trying to also court China and Russia as alternative arms sellers to compete with the US.  He’s wanted a more or less complete split with the US alliance, and a shift toward neutrality, though others in the government have been reluctant to go that far.

Keeping the drill humanitarian allows the US to keep its foot in the door in the Philippines, and strong ties with the nation’s military, which is likely to be the US long-term goal, hoping for a resumption of traditional ties as soon as Duterte’s term in office is up.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.

  • RickR35

    Good. No reason to keep pleasing the US with this nonsense.

  • jsinton

    Absurd to suppose “the Pentagon long seeing the Philippines as central to a war with China”. US was long gone from Philippine bases, and the RP had no airforce or navy to speak of. The US only came back with the absurd Chinese “nine dash line” grab, at RP’s request. And Jason also fails to mention about how RP and China are spating over Spratys again last week, as Mr Duterte finds out the Chinese are not going to play so nice.

    • Schmizer

      ……and the reason the US was “long gone” is because the PI raised the ante for the rent of Subic and Clark AB and the US said “no”.

      • jsinton

        No, there was a long current of nationalistic sentiment in the RP Senate, and the leftest members got the upper hand. The US was in the mood to close bases at the time from the so-called “peace dividend”.

        • Schmizer

          Yes and the PI wanted to raise then rent, modify the Status of Forces Agreement, make PI military the Base Commander, etc., and have even more jurisdiction over American miltiary personnel than they already had.

    • Chris

      it’s a long-term cat and mouse game that’s being played, we’re going to be pulling carrot or stick up depending on what present circumstances dictate, but if you’re trying to insinuate that if we get kicked out, we’ll just pack up and leave, then you haven’t been following the histories of the other 800+ bases we’re managing. You don’t suppose they’re welcoming us with open arms everywhere and that we do take ‘no’ for an answer.

      • jsinton

        Not everything is an Anglo/Zionist conspiracy, like in Antiwar world. These people push their agenda like everyone else.

  • I think I smell another coup d’etat, oops! I mean ‘Color Revolution’, in the near future.

  • Jacques Devin

    Philippines President Duterte is a very smart man not to trust the US, he knows what happen too those who dare to chance they’ll get a fair shake if they side with the US.

  • jsinton

    No time for that BS, gotta waste those N koreans.

    • Jacques Devin

      @ jsinton…Time for the chicken hawks to go to South Korea and show the world how it’s done or stfu, moron!