U.S. Escalating War in the Philippines

During the past week, U.S. and Philippine military forces have engaged in a series of deadly battles on the southern Philippine island of Basilan.

Despite pledges from the Pentagon that U.S. forces "would not engage in combat" during the current joint U.S.-Philippine military maneuvers, numerous reports are emerging that U.S. troops are directly involved in the fighting.

On Tuesday, March 19, for example, grenades and small arms fire were exchanged between rebels and a Philippine army patrol. U.S. troops and Green Berets soldiers were involved in the combat and "were turned back by fighting," according to reports by AP and Reuters. On March 15, two U.S. Pave Hawk helicopters evacuated three wounded Philippine soldiers and removed one dead after a clash in the same area. According to one Philippine army official, "The numerous encounters of recent days is the result of American intelligence."

Currently, about 660 U.S. troops, including 160 Special Forces members, are in the southern Philippines assisting Filipino troops on combat operations against insurgent forces.

In April, the U.S. will deploy 2,665 more troops for the second phase of the Philippine-U.S. joint military exercises. According to Philippine Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes, the second-phase exercises are set in the central of Luzon island in the north. In addition to the first and second phase of the ongoing joint exercises, code-named "Balikatan," another 10 smaller-scale military exercises involving U.S. troops would be held in the country for the rest of this year.

The recent clashes in the southern Philippines demonstrate that U.S. imperialism is using the slogan of "fighting against terrorism" in order to dispatch its troops to fight counter-insurgency wars -- in the Philippines, in Colombia, and throughout the world. The troops in the Philippines are acting as a trip-wire, purposely deployed to instigate confrontation and to further escalate U.S. military intervention in the region.