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Philippine Island Facing Taiwan Eyed for Next Exercises With US

An island in the northernmost Philippines is being eyed as the next location of an annual US-Philippines joint military exercise known as “Balikatan.”

An uninhabited island, Mavulis is in the province of Batanes 140 kilometers (87 miles) from southern Taiwan.

Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) Chief Lt. Gen. Fernyl Buca visited the strategic island with a team of Balikatan planners and inspected the military detachments there on the weekend.

“It’s for advance planning for a possible proposed exercise area in future Balikatan (drills),” he told the Inquirer.

In a separate statement, NOLCOM explained that the visit was to assess if the island can help protect the nation’s maritime borders and interests, as NOLCOM transitions into territorial defense operations.

Strategic Preparation?

Conducting a large-scale military exercise on an island facing Taiwan could be a strategic move for the US as it prepares for a potential Chinese invasion of the small island nation.

Access to the nearby Philippines is deemed crucial in a potential US-China confrontation in the Taiwan Strait, as it could serve as a “staging post” for any American intervention.

Its strategic location could also be used to aid resupply missions, since Beijing is anticipated to destroy any means to deliver military equipment to the frontline.

Additionally, a senior defense consultant in Taiwan previously urged the Taiwanese military to make the Philippines a temporary shelter for its fighter jets to protect them from an initial barrage of Chinese attacks.

Despite its strategic location, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has said he would not allow Manila to be caught in the crossfire by getting involved in a potential war.

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