U.S. TROOPS IN LUZON FOR WAR GAMES
Subic Bay, Zambales, April 18, 2003 -- U.S. troops arrived at the former
U.S. Naval base of Subic yesterday for joint military exercises with
Philippine soldiers aimed at dealing with security and terrorist threats.
High-speed vessels carrying the first group of 450 U.S. military personnel
and equipment arrived at Subic Bay, north of Manila for the two-week
exercise that begins on April 25 dubbed "Balikatan."
The annual war game is separate from a U.S.-Philippine anti-terror training
exercise to be held on the Sulu islands in Mindanao.
Lt. Tryiokasus Brown, spokesman for the U.S. troops participating in the
exercise on the main northern island of Luzon, said the soldiers -- mostly
from the marine corps -- came from Okinawa, Japan.
A total of about 1,200 U.S. forces and 2,500 Philippine troops will take
part in the training to be conducted at three points on Luzon, including
the former U.S. Clark air base.
The military exercise on Sulu was originally set to be held earlier this
year, but was delayed by controversies over whether U.S. soldiers would
fight Moro rebels, which would violate the Constitution. The exercise was
also protested by the native Tausugs, who still recall a US-ordered
massacre of thousands of islanders during the American occupation.
"There would be no combat role to be assigned to the Americans. Their's
would be merely to assist, advise, and support our operations," said Lt.
Gen. Rodolfo Garcia, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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