By Audrey Morallo
MANILA, Philippines — Australian and Japanese military forces will be involved in this year’s Balikatan Exercise, the Philippine military announced Monday, as it holds scaled down drills with its treaty ally, the US.
Lt. Gen. Oscar Lactao, the Philippine side exercise director, said that Australian forces would be involved in some special operations while military personnel from Japan would participate in the humanitarian exercises.
“For the Australian Armed Forces, they will participate in some special operations and bilateral exercises, and for the Japanese it’s more of HADR,” Lactao said.
This year's Balikatan Exercise features drills in humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and counterterrorism, an apparent scale down of the yearly military engagement between the two countries.
Evidence pointing to some strain on the military alliance of the two countries came after it was announced that the two sides would not hold Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) and Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) this year.
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