Greater U.S. Troop Deployment Expected in Philippines

(June 10, 2002)

Another large contingent of U.S. forces will be deployed in the Philippines next month for "joint naval and counter-terrorism exercises" on the main island of Luzon, a Filipino official stated on June 5.

An estimated 1,500 U.S. troops from the Marines, Navy and Coast Guard will join the two-week "exercises" which are to begin on July 16. A P3 Orion spy plane, four American frigates, a salvage ship and several amphibious vehicles will be used in the exercises, an official said.

These military exercises are separate from those currently taking place in the southern Philippines, where over 1,000 U.S. troops are currently deployed.

During a three-day tour of the Philippines last week, U.S. Deputy Defence Secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, also said the U.S. was ready to extend its military commitment beyond the 1,000 troops.

"We will be open to all kinds of possibilities, not just with respect to [the joint military campaign], but with respect to the larger peace and order problems in this country," Wolfowitz said on June 3.

He also admitted that U.S. aims went beyond "the rescue of American missionaries," stating: "It would be a very misleading impression to suggest, especially to Filipinos, that as soon as the [missionaries] are rescued the Americans will lose interest in the Philippines....This is a much bigger question ... We are very much committed to helping the Government across the board."

Under the cover of "fighting international terrorism," the U.S. is clearly strengthening its military presence in the Philippines and preparing for war.