“US and Philippine Forces Sink China-Made Vessel in South China Sea War Games”

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US and Philippine Forces Sink Decommissioned Chinese-Made Ship in South China Sea War Games

During recent war games in the South China Sea, US and Philippine forces sank a decommissioned China-made Philippine Navy ship. The exercises took place near the city of Laoag, approximately 400 kilometers south of Taiwan. These war games come at a time of increased confrontations between Philippine and Chinese vessels in the disputed South China Sea region.

The Exercise

The decommissioned ship, BRP Lake Caliraya, slowly sank after being struck by waves of anti-ship missiles, rockets, cannon fire, and land-based artillery. The attack was carried out by a navy fast-attack craft and frigate, an air force fighter and helicopter, and land-based artillery from the Philippine military. The US also participated with an F-16 fighter and an AC-130 gunship. The objective of the exercise was to simulate an attack on an enemy vessel and prevent an aggressor from landing on Philippine soil.

Coordination and Lethality

Lieutenant Colonel Omar Al Assaf, the lead Philippine planner for the exercise, emphasized the importance of coordination between the US and Filipino forces. He stated that the ability of both armies and air forces to work together is extremely lethal. Lieutenant Colonel Matt Cahill, the commander of the US army unit participating in the war games, compared the coordination to team sports, highlighting the need for practice and familiarity before the big game.

It is worth noting that the choice of a China-made ship as the target for the exercise does not carry any symbolic meaning, according to Philippine Navy Chief Vice Admiral Toribio Adaci. He stated that the vessel has been used in the Philippines for a long time, and any attachment to its origin does not matter at all.

Balikatan: The Annual Military Drills

The war games, known as Balikatan, meaning “shoulder to shoulder” in Tagalog, involve more than 16,700 Philippine and US troops. These annual military drills take place in multiple locations across the Asian archipelago. The exercises aim to enhance the interoperability and cooperation between the two countries’ armed forces.

During the war games, journalists were able to witness the events through video screens beamed toward a strip of sand dunes. Just two days earlier, the two allies conducted a live-fire exercise with missiles and artillery to simulate stopping an imaginary invasion force from landing on the Philippines’ north coast.

China’s Claims and International Response

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, despite an international ruling that its assertion has no legal basis. The country has deployed hundreds of coast guard, navy, and other vessels to patrol and militarize the waters. When asked about the war games, China’s Foreign Ministry warned against any military exercise that would harm the interests of third parties. The ministry’s spokesman, Lin Jian, stated that the countries in the region can clearly see who is currently provoking military confrontation and escalating tensions.

It is essential to understand the context of these war games and the geopolitical dynamics in the South China Sea. The exercises serve as a demonstration of the Philippines’ commitment to protecting its sovereignty and maintaining regional stability. The participation of the US highlights its support for its ally and its interest in maintaining freedom of navigation in the disputed waters.

These war games also underscore the importance of international law and the need for peaceful resolutions to territorial disputes. The international community plays a crucial role in encouraging dialogue and adherence to established legal frameworks. By contextualizing the events and providing insights into the regional dynamics, we can better understand the significance of these war games and their implications for the South China Sea region.

Source: The Manila Times

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