PH-Australia kick off joint army-to-army exercises

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 16) — Filipino and Australian troops on Monday launched their joint drills in Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal as part of Exercise Kasangga 2023.

In the opening ceremony, Manila and Canberra traced its long-standing defense ties back to World War II and said the joint training is about "interoperability and keeping our region safe."

"This is only for defensive posture, if our country will be attacked by any threat groups in the future," Philippine Army BGen Jose Agusto Villareal said.

As part of the AUKUS (Australia-United Kingdom-United States) Defense Agreement, Australia also backs freedom of navigation in the South China Sea — a move China has denounced.

A second batch of Australian troops is set to arrive in the Philippines in June for the continuation of the joint exercises.