The Navy’s Golden Chance to Return to Subic Bay

U.S. Naval Institute | 6/8/2019 | Staff
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In recent years, the United States has struggled to persuade the Philippine government and the country’s citizens it is serious about honoring its commitments under the 1951 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT). China has been feeding this growing mistrust, hoping to drive a wedge between the two long-standing allies to the point one or both will move to terminate the treaty.

In early March, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stopped in Manila on his way home from the North Korea summit in Hanoi to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to defend the Philippines under the MDT. A public affirmation had not been done since Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen and U.S. Ambassador Thomas C. Hubbard issued a joint statement in 1999. Pompeo’s stop helped but did not fully assuage the Filipinos. While many Philippine leaders are increasingly worried about the U.S. meeting its commitments, others and much of the public are equally concerned the Philippines could be dragged into a conflict between China and the United States.

Rhetoric - Philippine - President - Rodrigo - Duterte

Despite the anti-U.S. rhetoric from the current Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and others in his administration, the bond between the Filipino people and Americans remains strong, as evidenced by the recent return to the Philippines of the Bells of Balangiga (taken by U.S. soldiers from a Catholic church in 1901), removing a significant irritant in U.S.-Philippine relations. The United States should continue to look for and take advantage of opportunities to strengthen the relationship and keep China’s influence at bay.

As luck would have it, a new opportunity is now at hand, with the United States intending to grow its fleet to 355 ships and an acknowledgment it does not have enough public shipyard capacity to build and maintain a fleet even close to that number.

Rounds - Base - Realignment - Closure - BRAC

During five rounds of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) between...
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