Hanoi (VNA) - More than 2,000 US and Philippine military personnel, along with a small number of Japanese soldiers, on October 9 began annual combat exercises aimed at responding rapidly to crises and natural disasters and affirming their commitment to keep the region "free and open."

The 10-day drills, which include amphibious assault and live-fire exercises, kicked off at Subic Freeport in the northwest of Manila. They will also include humanitarian work in six northern provinces of the Philippines.

US and Philippine officials said the exercises aim to address terrorism, security and humanitarian concerns during natural disasters./.