Philippines, US kick off largest-ever joint military drills

The Philippines and the United States launched their largest-ever joint military exercises today, as the longstanding allies seek to counter growing Chinese assertiveness in the region.  

Nearly 18,000 troops are taking part in the annual exercises dubbed Balikatan, or “shoulder to shoulder” in Filipino, which for the first time will include a live-fire drill in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost entirely.