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The Philippines, an American Ally, Requires Continued Support
Posted By Andy Thomchick On April 19, 2013 @ 5:30 pm In International | Comments Disabled
The armed forces of the United States and the Philippines conducted the 29th annual Balikatan joint military exercises  April 5 through April 17. These military exercises are the largest and most significant joint military operations between the U.S. and Filipino militaries.
The exercises  are “a signature element” of the “two nations’ robust treaty alliance relationship.” The war games help the U.S. military and Filipino military operate more effectively together—especially when it comes to humanitarian disaster relief missions.
But the militaries also conduct joint field exercises and try to come up with more effective ways to work together on the battlefield amid the chaos of combat. More than 8,000 U.S. and Filipino troops  took part in the exercises. The U.S. Marine Corps brought in heavy-hitting  military hardware—F/A-18 fighters, MV-22 Osprey aircraft, and amphibious assault vehicles (AAVs)—to make the field exercises as realistic as possible.
One of the major challenges for the U.S. in the region is the weakness of Filipino naval and air forces. As one member  of the Academy of Military Sciences of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army commented, “In this joint exercise, the U.S. side mobilized a large amount of advanced navy and air force equipment, while the Philippines had but little to show in contrast.” The U.S. therefore acts as a “bodyguard” for the Philippines.
It’s not quite that simple. These exercises build on the interoperability of U.S. and Filipino forces. Such cooperation also sets an example for military-to-military cooperation with other countries in the region at a time when U.S. leadership is critical. The territorial disputes in the South China Sea, particularly between the Philippines and China, demand that the U.S. take a strong stance  to guarantee the security of our treaty allies and to maintain the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.
The U.S.–Philippines alliance needs a better equipped, more “ready” Filipino element. As Filipino scholar Renato de Castro and Heritage’s Walter Lohman explain :
The Philippines has the weakest navy in the region, and its air force is unable to patrol and monitor its vast maritime territory. It resorts to the futile filing of diplomatic protests whenever an aggressive China encroaches on its [exclusive economic zone].
The symbol of the Philippines’s need for assistance is the fact that it does not have a single fighter aircraft in service today.
In light of the current situation, the U.S. should:
Maintaining a strong relationship with the Philippines and helping them build up their military forces is an absolutely critical factor in the U.S. strategic “pivot” to Asia.
Andy Thomchick is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here. 
Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org
URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2013/04/19/americas-ally-the-philippines-requires-continued-support/
URLs in this post:
 Image: http://blog.heritage.org/wp-content/uploads/The-Philippines130419.jpg
 joint military exercises: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/72493/philippines-us-end-balikatan-war-games
 exercises: http://manila.usembassy.gov/balikatan2013.html
 U.S. and Filipino troops: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/video/nation/04/17/13/ph-us-balikatan-2013-ends
 heavy-hitting: http://www.dvidshub.net/news/105379/balikatan-2013-comes-end#.UXALLLUqbTo
 one member: http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90786/8207055.html
 strong stance: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/05/south-china-sea-dispute-between-china-and-the-philippines-safeguarding-americas-interests
 explain: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/09/getting-the-philippines-air-force-flying-again-the-role-of-the-us-philippines-alliance
 naval: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/08/us-philippines-partnership-in-the-cause-of-maritime-defense
 1951 U.S–Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty (MDF): http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/phil001.asp
 click here.: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm
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