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    Tuesday, November 21, 2017-11:20:19A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

Regional News

Be more lethal: US and Australian military forces start huge exercise in Pacific Ocean

SYDNEY (Express/Pacnews) — Australia and the U.S. began their biggest joint military exercise on Friday aimed at sending a message of strength to China as army chief calls on troops to be “more lethal.”

The exercise involved 33,000 U.S. and Australian troops on battleships with strike jets comes as tensions over China’s military assertiveness in the South China Sea.

The U.S. Pacific Command chief, Adm. Harry Harris, said: “This realistic and challenging exercise provided endless opportunities for our nations to innovatively prepare for regional and global security challenges.”

Harry Harris

Admiral Harris called on the forces “to be faster, more precise, more cost-effective and most importantly, more lethal.”

This training comes amid rising tensions in the South China Sea with China increasing its naval activities in the region.

Admiral Harris added: “I’m pleased about that message it sends our friends, allies, partners and potential adversaries.”

The relationship between the U.S. and China has worsened in recent months.

The U.S. has claimed that China has added more than 3,200 acres of land on seven reefs and tiny isles in the South China Sea over the past three years.

China has used this land for runways, ports, aircraft hangars and communications equipment.

The joint exercise is set to last a month.

Australia, along with the U.S., has expressed concerns over Beijing’s aggressive claims to territories in the disputed South China Sea and its militarization.

James Curran, professor of politics and foreign policy at the University of Sydney, said: “When there are concerns about China’s activities in the South China Sea, this military exercise will send a signal and take on greater significance.

“China will be concerned if it looks like containment, when you have Australia, the United States and others trying to gang-up on China.”