US to respond ‘within hours’ if PH sovereignty is challenged
The US Marine Corps will respond within hours if the sovereignty of the Philippines is ever threatened.
“I would tell you that if anybody would challenge the sovereignty of this country, their best friends within this region would respond within a matter of hours and generally, I assure you that is not a hollow promise,” said Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy, commander of the US 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, at the opening ceremonies of the Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercises (Phiblex) at the Marine headquarters at Fort Bonifacio.
He cited the 64-year alliance of the Philippines and United States through the Mutual Defense Treaty.
“Likewise, we know that this is a contested area. This is a busy neighborhood that you live in… In the worst case scenario, you may be called upon as Marine Corps and as your allies, should somebody overstep within the region, 64 years this alliance has held mutual… our mutual security has been upheld to the close working relationship that we have forged in that time,” he said.
Being the ‘closest friends’ of US in the Asia Pacific, Kennedy said they will be “at your (Philippines’) disposal” if they are needed.
Kennedy made no mention of the South China Sea dispute, where the Philippines is one of the claimants. The United States has opposed China’s building of artificial islands around the major waterway believed to be rich in resources.
The US has repeatedly called on the preservation of freedom of navigation for the South China Sea.
The Phiblex will include humanitarian and civic assistance projects and field training exercises, which will be held until Oct. 9, in various areas in Luzon, some including Zambales and Palawan.
There are about 700 Philippine troops and about 800 US Marines involved for the exercises.
Major Gen. Alexander Balutan, the naval inspector general, said the activities are aimed at “testing and enhancing new doctrines.”
“The primary purpose of this exercise is to improve inter-operability and combat readiness of both US and Philippine marine forces while strengthening the fibers of cooperation in the region,” he said in his speech.
Exercise Director Col. Jimmy Larid said they are focusing on the skills of their troops in amphibious operations in utilizing amphibious assault vehicles, which the Philippines will acquire two years from now.
“We would like to train our Marines so that this war material won’t be new to them upon arrival. So when these arrive, our Marines already know how to use and operate this doctrinally,” he told reporters.
He also made no mention of the South China Sea dispute.
“Our goal is to regain our core competency in the conduct of amphibious operations. We can use for external defense and internal security operations…Wala po tayong tina-target na external threat,” he said.
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