U.S. marine presence in Philippines to increase

An article in a U.S. marines publication notes that more marines will be visiting the Philippines. At present the U.S. is involved in Joint Special Operations Task Force--Philippines. The paper describes this as a clandestine unit although it is hardly a secret that they are there!

The units work with the Philippine Armed Forces training them in counter-terrorism against Islamic militants mostly in Mindanao but also against the NPA Maoist rebels who have been operating in various rural parts of the Philippines for decades. They also carry out joint humanitarian operations.

However operations are to be expanded with more troops, aircraft, and ships visiting say U.S. and Philippines officials. U.S. General Joseph Dunford said that in coming years hundreds of marines will deploy to the islands as Obama emphasizes a focus on Asia.

Neither the American nor Philippine government have given much detail about the deployments. There are no U.S. permanent bases any longer.as the government demanded closure of the Subic Bay base in 1992.

Some groups in the Philippines are opposed to the U.S. military presence. There have been several incidents where U.S. soldiers have been charged with rape. The accused are taken into U.S. custody under the status of forces agreement. Some want changes to the agreement.

However the Philippine foreign affairs secretary said to Reuters:“We would like the Americans to come more often,. “Let’s have these joint training exercises more frequently and on a bigger scale — as many times as we can, in different places if we can.” A joint exercise called Balikatan runs from April 16--27 every year. This year will see disaster-relief training in Palawan and Luzon. About 4,500 U.S. and 2,300 Filipino soldiers will take part.

The Philippine government wants the U.S. on side to press for the Philippine claim to the Spratly Islands that are also claimed by China. There are undersea oil resources in the region.

China sees the renewed U.S. activity in south-east Asia as a provocation. One can imagine if China carried on similar activity in Cuba. For more see the full article. The U.S. will.also send more troops to Australia as well.


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