US

US-Philippine drills open in uncertainty: Are they the last?

  • U.S. Marines Brig. Gen. John Jansen of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade and Maj. Gen. Andre Costales, Commandant of the Philippine Marines Corps, salute the flags at the opening ceremony for the 33rd joint US-Philippines amphibious landing exercises dubbed PHIBLEX at the marines corps in Taguig city east of Manila, Philippines Tuesday Oct.4,2016. President Rodrigo Duterte said he was giving notice to the United States, his country's long-standing ally, that joint exercises between Filipino and American troops this week will be the last such drills. He told the Filipino community in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital, last week that he will maintain the military alliance with the U.S. because of the countries' 1951 defense treaty. But he said this week's exercises will proceed only because he did not want to embarrass his defense secretary.(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

    U.S. Marines Brig. Gen. John Jansen of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade and Maj. Gen. Andre Costales, Commandant of the Philippine Marines Corps, salute the flags at the opening ceremony for the 33rd joint US-Philippines amphibious landing exercises dubbed PHIBLEX at the marines corps in Taguig city east of Manila, Philippines Tuesday Oct.4,2016. President Rodrigo Duterte said he was giving notice to the United States, his country's long-standing ally, that joint exercises between Filipino and American troops this week will be the last such drills. He told the Filipino community in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital, last week that he will maintain the military alliance with the U.S. because of the countries' 1951 defense treaty. But he said this week's exercises will proceed only because he did not want to embarrass his defense secretary.(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)  (The Associated Press)

  • Maj. Gen. Andre Costales, Commandant of the Philippine Marines Corps, salutes the flags at the opening ceremony for the 33rd joint US-Philippines amphibious landing exercises dubbed PHIBLEX at the marines corps in Taguig city east of Manila, Philippines Tuesday Oct. 4, 2016. President Rodrigo Duterte said he was giving notice to the United States, his country's long-standing ally, that joint exercises between Filipino and American troops this week will be the last such drills. He told the Filipino community in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital, last week that he will maintain the military alliance with the U.S. because of the countries' 1951 defense treaty. But he said this week's exercises will proceed only because he did not want to embarrass his defense secretary.(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

    Maj. Gen. Andre Costales, Commandant of the Philippine Marines Corps, salutes the flags at the opening ceremony for the 33rd joint US-Philippines amphibious landing exercises dubbed PHIBLEX at the marines corps in Taguig city east of Manila, Philippines Tuesday Oct. 4, 2016. President Rodrigo Duterte said he was giving notice to the United States, his country's long-standing ally, that joint exercises between Filipino and American troops this week will be the last such drills. He told the Filipino community in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital, last week that he will maintain the military alliance with the U.S. because of the countries' 1951 defense treaty. But he said this week's exercises will proceed only because he did not want to embarrass his defense secretary.(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)  (The Associated Press)

  • U.S. Marines Brig. Gen. John Jansen, center, of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade and Maj. Gen. Andre Costales, second from right, Commandant of the Philippine Marines Corps, salute at the opening ceremony for the 33rd joint US-Philippines amphibious landing exercises dubbed PHIBLEX at the marines corps in Taguig city east of Manila, Philippines Tuesday Oct. 4,2016. President Rodrigo Duterte said he was giving notice to the United States, his country's long-standing ally, that joint exercises between Filipino and American troops this week will be the last such drills. He told the Filipino community in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital, last week that he will maintain the military alliance with the U.S. because of the countries' 1951 defense treaty. But he said this week's exercises will proceed only because he did not want to embarrass his defense secretary.(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

    U.S. Marines Brig. Gen. John Jansen, center, of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade and Maj. Gen. Andre Costales, second from right, Commandant of the Philippine Marines Corps, salute at the opening ceremony for the 33rd joint US-Philippines amphibious landing exercises dubbed PHIBLEX at the marines corps in Taguig city east of Manila, Philippines Tuesday Oct. 4,2016. President Rodrigo Duterte said he was giving notice to the United States, his country's long-standing ally, that joint exercises between Filipino and American troops this week will be the last such drills. He told the Filipino community in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital, last week that he will maintain the military alliance with the U.S. because of the countries' 1951 defense treaty. But he said this week's exercises will proceed only because he did not want to embarrass his defense secretary.(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)  (The Associated Press)

U.S. and Philippine forces have opened joint combat exercises that the Philippines' new leader has said will be the last such drills of his six-year presidency.

Marine commanders from both sides said at an opening ceremony Tuesday that the exercises are aimed at improving readiness by the two countries to respond to a range of crises while deepening their historic ties.

Angered by U.S. criticism of his deadly anti-drug fight, Duterte said last week that the maneuvers will be the last under his presidency. His foreign secretary later said the decision wasn't final.

Philippine military officials said Tuesday they couldn't answer if the exercises will be the last under Duterte, or whether troops have been affected by his remarks.

The eight-day drills involve 1,100 American and 400 Filipino military personnel.