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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

4/28/2014 (5 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Boosted U.S. military presence intended to address growing territorial disputes

Increasingly tense territorial disputes with China has prompted a new military accord between the United States and the Philippines. Both nations have reached a 10-year agreement that allows a greater U.S. military presence in Southeast Asia.

The agreement will be at the main military camp in the Philippine capital, Manila, before President Barack Obama arrives on the last leg of a four-country Asian tour.

The agreement will be at the main military camp in the Philippine capital, Manila, before President Barack Obama arrives on the last leg of a four-country Asian tour.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/28/2014 (5 months ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: U.S., Philippines, military accord, China


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to a primer issued by the Philippine government, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement allows for U.S. troops to be deployed "on temporary and rotational basis." The agreement does not mean a return of U.S. military bases.

The agreement will let U.S. forces to train and conduct exercises with Philippine forces for maritime security, disaster assistance and humanitarian aid, White House officials said at a briefing.

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The agreement will be at the main military camp in the Philippine capital, Manila, before President Barack Obama arrives on the last leg of a four-country Asian tour. The president had earlier stops in Japan, South Korea and Malaysia.

Disaster response, such as the one after last year's Typhoon Yolanda is the kind of cooperation the pact would facilitate, officials accompanying Obama in Malaysia said.

While U.S. officials say the new security pact is not meant to counter Chinese assertiveness in the region, it would give American forces temporary access to selected military camps and allow them to preposition fighter jets and ships.

When asked if the pact is meant as a deterrent to China, Evan Medeiros, Obama's top Asia advisor, said "We're not doing this because of China."

The defense accord does address the U.S. and Philippines' respective dilemmas. The Philippines has struggled to bolster its territorial defense with its faltering military amid China's increasingly assertive behavior in the disputed South China Sea.

Manila's effort has complimented Washington's intention to pivot away from years of heavy military engagement in the Middle East to Asia, partly as a counterweight to China's rising clout.

"The Philippines' immediate and urgent motivation is to strengthen itself and look for a security shield with its pitiful military," Manila-based political analyst Ramon Casiple said. "The U.S. is looking for a re-entry to Asia, where its superpower status has been put in doubt."

The accord could deter China's increasingly assertive stance in disputed territories, Casiple says. However, he warns that it could also further antagonize Beijing, which sees such tactical alliance as a U.S. strategy to contain its rise, and encourage China to intensify its massive military buildup.

The agreement would promote better coordination between U.S. and Filipino forces, boost the 120,000-strong Philippine military's capability to monitor and secure the country's territory and respond more rapidly to natural disasters and other emergencies.

"Pre-positioned materiel will allow for timely responses in the event of disasters - natural or otherwise," stated the government primer.

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