Twenty years ago the U.S. Armed Forces were asked by the Philippines government to exit the area and now leaders from that country are in talks with President Obama to expand back into the island nations territory.
Talks have become necessary in the area as China has become a military superpower that has been more included of late to lay claim to disputed territories, most notably the power rich area of the South China Sea.
If an agreement is reached the U.S. may operate several Navy ships in the area while deploying troops on a rotational basis with frequent joint exercises. Rather that occupying U.S. run bases the troops would essentially be guests at foreign bases.
A senior official involved in the talks said of the US Troop request:
“We can point to other countries: Australia, Japan, Singapore,” and “We’re not the only one doing this, and for good reason. We all want to see a peaceful and stable region. Nobody wants to have to face China or confront China.”
The officials comments come just after Australia and Japan requested U.S. troop increases to slow what they believe is an aggressive Chinese military initiative bent on outward growth beyond the countries own borders.
While some countries have asked the United States for help the Obama Administration has also been putting out feelers to other Southeast Asian countries including Thailand and Vietnam. If those deals are accepted the U.S. presence in Asia could dramatically increase.
Returning to the Philippines wouldn’t be something new for the United States, currently 600 Special Operations troops work in the country to advice local forces about al-Qaeda activities.
In the meantime officials in the Philippines say there may goal is to strengthen maritime defenses for the countries 7,107 island, especially near the South China Sea as the Chinese continue to control that area. Government officials would like US ships and surveillance aircraft to monitor the region.
The U.S. has a lot at stake in the the region along the Philippines where the world’s busiest trade routes from from the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca.
Negotiations are still in their infancy however both governments have stated on numerous occasions that they would like to broker a deal that would allow U.S. troops to re-enter the area without creating a “cold war atmosphere” in which U.S. stations are resurrected and outward tensions rise.
Do you think the U.S. building up a strong presence in the Philippines, Australia, Guam, Japan and other surrounding areas will send a strong message to China as the country continues to stake claim over new areas?