MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- More than 1,500 U.S. and Filipino marines have begun annual exercises for combat readiness and to better respond to humanitarian crises in Southeast Asia such as typhoons or tsunamis.
Several countries in the region including the Philippines are also embroiled in territorial disputes with China.
The nine-day Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise opened Thursday at a ceremony in the Filipino marine headquarters in Taguig City.
At least 860 U.S. Marines from Okinawa, Japan, and 749 Filipino counterparts will take part in the drills.
Col. Nathaniel Casem, the Philippines' exercise director, said field training drills will be held in five military camps in the northern Philippines. Command post exercises involving computer simulations and humanitarian projects will take place in western Palawan province.