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Asia Minute: Busy period for U.S. military in Indo-Pacific

South Korea Koreas-Tensions,
Lee Jin-man/AP
Visitors talk each others as they watch the North Korean side from the unification observatory in Paju, South Korea, Tuesday, March 14, 2023. North Korea test-fired two short-range ballistic missiles in another show of force Tuesday, a day after the United States and South Korea began military drills that Pyongyang views as an invasion rehearsal. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

This is another active week for the U.S. military in what the Pentagon calls the “Indo-Pacific.”

Military exercises are back on a big scale in the Asia Pacific. While forces are routinely operating through the region, it’s been a busy period for multi-lateral exercises.

In Northeast Asia this week, the U.S. and South Korea are conducting their largest joint drills in five years.

For 11 days, these will run the gamut from tabletop exercises and computer simulations to field maneuvers including amphibious landings.

North Korea launched a missile test before the maneuvers began.

In Southeast Asia, the U.S. just wrapped up another training operation in Thailand.

“Cobra Gold” is an annual exercise that was scaled down in size during the pandemic.

This year's version was the largest in more than a decade — including more than 7,000 personnel from 30 countries.

Nearly 6,000 of them came from the U.S.

A smaller but more focused exercise got underway with Army forces in the Philippines this week.

Three weeks of movements will involve more than 3,000 U.S. and Filipino soldiers taking part in live-fire drills involving small arms, artillery and mortar.

A senior Philippine military officer told Reuters the scenarios will “involve the defense of the Philippine archipelago from potential foreign aggressors.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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