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U.S. And Philippines Plans To Expand American Military Presence

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U.S. And Philippines Plans To Expand American Military Presence

(CTN NEWS) – To counter China’s increasingly aggressive measures toward Taiwan and the disputed South China Sea, the U.S. and the Philippines announced plans to increase America’s military presence in the Southeast Asian country, with access to four new sites.

The agreement was achieved as U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was in the nation for discussions about sending American troops and equipment to more military bases in the Philippines.

The United States and the Philippines announced together that they had decided to speed up the full implementation of their so-called Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.

Which supports joint training, exercises, and interoperability.

According to the announcement, as part of the deal, the U.S. has allotted $82 million for infrastructure upgrades at five current EDCA locations and would increase its military presence at four new sites in “strategic parts of the country.”

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In this handout photo provided by the Command Public Information Office, Western Mindanao Command, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III arrives in Zamboanga province, southern Philippines, on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. via AP)

Austin arrived in the Philippines on Tuesday from South Korea, where he announced that in response to North Korea’s escalating nuclear threat.

The United States would increase the deployment of cutting-edge weapons like fighter jets and bombers to the Korean Peninsula. These weapons would also strengthen joint training with South Korean forces.

According to regional Philippine military commander Lt. Gen. Roy Galido, Austin visited southern Zamboanga in the Philippines, Washington’s oldest treaty ally in Asia and a crucial front in the U.S. war against terrorism.

He met with Filipino generals and a small group of U.S. counterterrorism forces stationed in a local military camp.

For years, more than 100 members of the U.S. military have assisted Filipino troops against a decades-long Muslim insurgency, which has somewhat diminished but still poses a serious threat.

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/ AP

More recently, U.S. forces have expanded and increased joint exercises with Filipino forces on the country’s western coast, which confronts the South China Sea.

And in its northern Luzon province, across the sea from the Taiwan Strait, with a focus on combat readiness and disaster response.

According to the 2014 EDCA defense agreement, American personnel was allowed access to five military bases in the Philippines where they might temporarily station.

In an additional five military facilities, largely in the north, the U.S. requested access for a bigger number of its forces and weaponry in October.

According to Philippine officials, Austin’s discussions will prioritize that request.

According to Jose Romualdez, the Philippine ambassador to Washington, “the visit of Secretary Austin surely, obviously will have to do with many of the ongoing conversations on the EDCA sites.”

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/ AP

According to Romualdez, Austin was set to meet with his Philippine counterpart Carlito Galvez Jr. and National Security Adviser Eduardo Ano on Thursday.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who took office in June and has since taken attempts to improve relations with Washington, will receive a separate call from Austin.

After Vice President Kamala Harris’ November visit, the U.S. defense chief is the most recent top official to travel to the Philippines, a sign of improved relations following a tense era under Rodrigo Duterte, Marcos’ predecessor.

Duterte has fostered close ties with China and Russia, threatened to break ties with Washington, expel American personnel stationed there, and reneged on a significant defense agreement.

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/ AP

Because of the treaty alliance and to help avert a big confrontation, Romualdez said the Philippines ought to work with Washington to prevent any escalation of tensions between China and self-ruled Taiwan.

“We’re caught in a Catch-22. We will be impacted if China takes military action against Taiwan, as will the entire ASEAN region.

But mostly Japan and South Korea, according to Romualdez, who was alluding to the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which includes the Philippines.”

In the South China Sea, the Philippines, ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam, as well as Taiwan, have been embroiled in a series of contentious territorial disputes with China.

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/ AP

The United States has promised to support the Philippines if its forces, ships, or aircraft are attacked in the disputed waters and is seen as a key counterweight to China in the area.

Two of the largest U.S. Navy and Air Force bases outside the country’s continental territory were formerly located in the Philippines.

The sites were closed in the early 1990s when the Philippine Senate refused an extension, but under a 1999 Visiting Marines Agreement, American forces returned for sizable combat drills with Filipino forces.

The Philippine Constitution forbids foreign soldiers’ permanent encampment and participation in regional hostilities.


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Alishba Waris is an independent journalist working for CTN News. She brings a wealth of experience and a keen eye for detail to her reporting. With a knack for uncovering the truth, Waris isn't afraid to ask tough questions and hold those in power accountable. Her writing is clear, concise, and cuts through the noise, delivering the facts readers need to stay informed. Waris's dedication to ethical journalism shines through in her hard-hitting yet fair coverage of important issues.

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