U.S., Philippines Start Balikatan As Korea Crisis Continues
By Harold Hutchison
American and Philippine troops began their preparations for the Balaikatan exercises as tensions on the Korean peninsula remained high. The annual exercises, mostly involving disaster relief, will involve over 8,000 troops from the two countries.
The exercise comes as South Korea increased its readiness as North Korea not only moved missiles to launch pads on its eastern coast and advised foreign embassies to evacuate. The United States has deployed two guided-missile destroyers to the region, and is also moving a missile-defense battery to Guam.
The Philippines are caught up in their own potential crisis, a maritime dispute with Communist China over the South China Sea. The Balikatan exercise is featuring a dozen F/A-18 Hornets, strike fighters used by the United States Navy and Marine Corps. The United States and Philippines have a mutual defense treaty.