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US defense chief lays out new military aid to Philippines

Lt. Gen. John Toolan, center, U.S. Commander of U.S. Marine forces in the Pacific, chats with Vice-Admiral Alexander Lopez, right, following the opening ceremony of their annual joint military exercise, dubbed Balikatan 2016 (Shoulder-to-Shoulder), Monday, April 4, 2016 at Camp Aguinaldo, in suburban Quezon city, northeast of Manila, Philippines. Toolan said that U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter would fly to the Philippines to witness some of the events of the 11-day exercises, which would see the deployment for the first time of a highly mobile rocket system that has been used in Afghanistan. The annual military drill, involving 5,000 U.S. personnel and 3,500 counterpart from the Philippines, is being conducted amidst tension in the South China Sea. AP/Bullit Marquez

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Ash Carter says the United States will send about $40 million in military assistance to the Philippines to strengthen intelligence sharing, surveillance and naval patrols. The aid comes amid increasing tensions with China over undeveloped islands and shoals in the region.

Carter tells the Council on Foreign Relations that the aid will take the alliance to a new level. Officials recently announced that the U.S. will get access to five Philippine military bases to house American forces that will rotate in and out of the country for training and other missions.

Carter says he will visit two of those bases next week.

The new aid will include an enhanced information network for classified communications, sensors for patrol vessels and an unmanned aerostat reconnaissance airship.

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