FORT MAGSAYSAY, Philippines — U.S. and Filipino forces have blasted vehicles with anti-tank missiles in combat-readiness drills in the Philippines that are part of a show of American firepower that has alarmed China.

The treaty allies are holding their largest joint military exercises called Balikatan — or shoulder-to-shoulder — in decades. They involve 17,600 military personnel and will feature live-fire maneuvers, including a ship-sinking rocket attack and beach assaults to simulate retaking an island near the disputed South China Sea.

Last month, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the Philippine military’s focus is shifting from decades of battling communist and Muslim insurgents to external defense to ensure the protection of the country’s territory as disputes with China in the South China Sea persist.

Joeal Calupitan and Aaron Favila with The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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