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    US Military Drills in Philippines Unaffected by America’s Focus on Ukraine and Gaza, US General Says

    US Military Drills in Philippines Unaffected by America's Focus on Ukraine and Gaza, US General Says

    MANILA, Philippines — Combat exercises between the United States and the Philippines involving thousands of forces each year will not be affected by America's focus on the wars in and the Middle East, a U.S. general said Thursday.

    The Biden administration has been strengthening an arc of alliances in the Indo-Pacific region to build deterrence and to better counter , including in any future confrontation over Taiwan and the disputed South China Sea.

    But there have been concerns that the war in Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas conflict could hamper America's pivot to Asia and the Pacific and divert military resources intended for the region.

    “Certainly, it does not affect our presence,” Maj. Gen. Marcus Evans, commanding general of the U.S. 's 25th Infantry Division, told The Associated Press in an interview late Thursday when asked to comment on those concerns.

    “If anything, it drives an increased sense of urgency to focus on these partnerships that we've developed decades ago and it's our responsibility to continue to build on these unique training opportunities.,” said Evans, who has 12,000 soldiers under his command.

    Evans, who is based in Hawaii, was in Manila for talks with his Philippine army counterparts ahead of largescale combat maneuvers between the U.S. and Philippine forces.

    The annual drills include the Salaknib, which are army-to-army drills first held in the country in 2016, and…

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