Thursday, August 08, 2013
US And The Philippines Discuss Larger US Military Presence To Restructure Old Alliance
The Filipino government, anxious about what they say is increasing Chinese aggression in Philippine-claimed waters in the South China Sea is now in talks with the US about an increased US military presence and help in refurbishing and training its own military.
Filipino Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario sent a letter to the FIlipino congress emphasizing the necessity for American troops to have an “increased rotational presence” will help the country attain a “minimum credible defense” to help the Philippines guard its territory while it works to modernize its own military, something that has not been a priority for quite some time.
The Philippines, a former U.S. colony actually bans foreign troops being permanently based on its soil, something that was directly aimed at the US after the two countries had a falling out in 1991 and forced the U.S. to vacate its two major American bases in the Philippines at Subic and Clark.
A few U.S. troops were allowed back in to help the Filipino military battle Abu Sayaff, the local al-Qaeda affiliate (the Philippines has a large Muslim population, mainly located on the southern island of Mindanao), but this recent call is directed at increasing tension between the Philippines and China.
China claims huge stretches of the South China Sea as its own sovereign territory, and that has led to clashes with not only the Philippines but with Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan. The Chinese sent a fleet into the waters of the Spratly Islands, which the Philipines claim as their own sovereign territory just last July, and China has also turned Mischief Reef, which it occupied, into a naval base.
So the Filipino government is once again seeking to base U.S. forces there.
While this is being dubbed as 'temporary' for political reasons, there's no doubt in my mind that the superb harbor at what was a major U.S. base at Subic Bay will once again become a prominent American military asset.
In his famous speech to Congress 62 years ago, General Douglas MacArthur reminded America that the western Pacific is America's maritime redoubt against our enemies. He was entirely correct.
We're seeing this basic truth reaffirmed again, as our ally Japan rebuilds its Navy and the U.S. builds ups its forces in Northern Australia, Guam, the Marianas and the naval fortress of Singapore. Look for the Philippines to be another important link in our Pacific defenses.
This is a much bigger deal than it appears.