US wants to expand access to Philippine military bases

The US military wants to expand its access to Philippine military bases, likely involving two on the northern island of the country.

Washington Post On January 31, quoting US and Philippine officials, talks about Washington’s increased access to Manila’s military base are ongoing. The two countries are expected to announce the matter this week when US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin meets his Philippine counterpart Carlito Galvez Jr. and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Manila.

Experts say two military bases on the island of Luzon, in the northern Philippines, are among the locations the US military wants to access to ensure it a strategic position to deploy operations in the event of a conflict. breakthrough in the area.

A US State Department official said assessments at several sites in the Philippines have taken place over the past few months, at least two sites have been selected. A Philippine defense official said the agreement on additional sites “has been somewhat worked out” and will be formalized when the defense ministers of the two countries meet.

US and Philippine soldiers take part in exercise Balikatan 22 off the coast of Palawan province in April 2022.  Photo: USMC.

US and Philippine soldiers take part in exercise Balikatan 22 off the coast of Palawan province in April 2022. Photo: USMC.

The Philippine official said increasing military cooperation with the US “is a good sign for our defensive posture”, but insisted the Philippine effort “is not aimed at any specific country”.

According to the official, President Marcos “realizes the volatility of the region at the moment and the Philippines really needs to take steps”, and is “closely monitoring developments” in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea. .

The US military deployed a large-scale garrison in the Philippines after World War II, including two that were once its largest overseas bases. However, Philippine authorities in 1991 terminated the agreement and demanded the return of all military bases by the US.

Location of Luzon Island, Philippines.  Graphics: Wikimedia.

Location of Luzon Island, Philippines. Graphics: Wikimedia Commons.

Under the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), the United States has access to four air bases and one army base in the Philippines with a rotating garrison deployment. None of the five bases are located on the island of Luzon in the northern Philippines.

The planned expansion of the EDCA comes after the US Marines announced in early January that they would reshuffle a garrison in Okinawa, Japan, to strengthen their combat capabilities on remote and dangerous islands. return in 2025. Under the reform plan, a regiment of US marines will be equipped with advanced weapons such as anti-ship missiles.

Nguyen Tien (Theo Washington Post)

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