Further to this post, and “Comments”,
US expands Philippines ops…
America’s new normal in the Philippines will involve hundreds more troops and almost a dozen more aircraft—and more joint patrols with the Philippine navy in the South China Sea, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Thursday [April 13] during a meeting with his counterpart in Manila.
We say “more” joint patrols because Carter disclosed for the first time this morning that the U.S. and the Philippines have already conducted two joint patrols in the SCS, the first in March and the second in April, Stars and Stripes’ Tara Copp reports traveling with Carter.
About those additional troops: “The first dispatch of forces, totaling about 275 people, will be pulled from the roughly 5,000 U.S. troops now in the Philippines as part of the bilateral Balikatan annual exercise, which ends Friday,” Copp writes. “The 275 servicemembers will remain in the Philippines through the end of the month, but are expected to be replaced by follow-on personnel.”
And a bit more: “The rotating forces also will include 200 airmen who will operate out of Clark Air Base on Luzon Island,” with those troops coming “from various bases in the Pacific to support five A-10C Thunderbolt II attack aircraft from the 51st Fighter Wing at Osan Air Base, in South Korea; three HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters from the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base, Japan; and a MC-130H Combat Talon II special operations aircraft.”
Also in the works: Possible Philippine-Vietnam joint patrols in the SCS, Reuters reported Wednesday. Defense officials from the two nations are to meet this week on the topic, but no final decisions are expected soon. More here…
Almost everyone working together against China–great result of their aggressive policies. And a fraught situation (note public statements by a senior USN admiral).