U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said American naval forces have begun joint patrols with the Philippine Navy in the South China Sea, the Voice of America (VOA) News reported.
Carter’s announcement was made during a recent joint news conference in Manila. The first joint patrol was carried out in March and the second in April. They will continue “regularly” in the future, said the secretary.
Around 275 American personnel and five U.S. warplanes will be temporarily deployed in the Philippines, AFP reported.
The U.S. military aircraft and 200 airmen will remain at Clark Air Base in the Philippines until the end of the month following the end of the joint Balikatan exercises, Carter said.
Up to 75 U.S. troops are expected to stay at Camp Aguinaldo, east of Manila, to improve interoperability and joint command-and-control capabilities.
The rotational forces will have “routine follow-ons,” but will not be continuous, said one official.