The U.S. military is poised to secure expanded access to key bases in the Philippines on the heels of a significant revamp of U.S. force posture in Japan — developments that reflect the allies’ concern with an increasingly fraught security environment in the region and a desire to deepen alliances with the United States, according to U.S. and Philippine officials.
While negotiations are still ongoing, an announcement is expected as soon as this week when Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin meets in Manila with his counterpart, Carlito Galvez, acting secretary of National Defense, and then with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
The expansion involves access to Philippine military bases, likely including two on the northern island of Luzon — which, analysts said, could give U.S. forces a strategic position from which to mount operations in the event of a conflict in Taiwan or the South China Sea. They will also facilitate cooperation on a range of security concerns, including more rapid responses to natural disasters and climate-related events.
Extensive work has been done over the last few months in the Philippines to assess and evaluate various sites, and at least two of them have been pinned down, said a State Department official, who like other officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the deliberations.
A Philippine defense official said an agreement for the additional sites had “more or less” been made but would be formalized when the two defense secretaries meet. Aides from the two offices were continuing to iron out key details in recent days, and at least two of the new sites are in Luzon, he said.
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Source: Stars and Stripes