An acceptable presence:the new US basing structure in the Philippines

18 October 2007

The Philippines' decision 16 years ago to close down a US military base made history and marked a significant victory for anti-base campaigners. But backdoor deals have delivered the largest ever US military presence. Philippines illustrates the latest strategy of US imperialism to create agile, flexible forces to maintain dominance.

Sixteen years ago, the Philippine Senate made the historic vote to shut down what American analysts once described as probably the most important basing complex in the world -- the US military bases in Subic and Clark, along with other smaller support and communications facilities in the country.

Taken after long and emotional debates, the Senate vote shook the Philippines relations with its most important ally. That one small and weak country could say no to what by then had become the worlds only remaining superpower reverberated across the world.

Since then, every move by the US military in the Philippines has provoked controversy. For the most part, however, the question has tended to be framed in terms of whether the US is seeking to re-establish the kind of bases it had in the past. Such framing has consequently allowed the US and Philippine governments to categorically deny any such plans. But what has since emerged is not a return to the past but a new and different kind of basing.

Global posture

Categories of US overseas military structures

Main Operating Bases (MOB) are those relatively larger installations and facilities located in the territory of reliable allies, with vast infrastructure and family support facilities that will serve as the hub of operations in support of smaller, more austere bases; examples are the Ramstein Air Base in Germany, the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, and Camp Humphreys in Korea

- Forward Operating Sites (FOS) are smaller, more spare bases that could be expanded and then scaled down as needed; they will store pre-positioned equipment but will only normally host a small number of troops on a rotational, as opposed to permanent, basis; while smaller, they must still be able to quickly support a range of operations with back-up from MOBs

- Cooperative Security Locations (CSL) are facilities owned by host governments that would only be used by the US in case of actual operations; though they could be visited and inspected by the US, they would most likely be ran and maintained by host-nation personnel or even private contractors; useful for pre-positioning logistics support or as venues for joint operations with host militaries, they may also be expanded to become FOSs if necessary

Source: US Department of Defense, Strengthening US Global Defense Posture, September 2004

Since the end of the Cold War, but in a process that has accelerated since the Bush administration came to office, the United States has embarked on what American officials tout as the most radical reconfiguration since World War II of its global defense posture.

This term no longer refers simply to the over 850 physical bases and installations that the US now maintains in around 46 countries around the world.[1] As US Defense undersecretary for policy Douglas J Feith explained, We are not talking only about basing, we're talking about the ability of our forces to operate when and where they are needed.[2]

Billed as the Integrated Global Presence and Basing Strategy, the plan seeks to comprehensively transform the US overseas military presence - largely unchanged since the 1950s - in light of perceived new threats and the US self-avowed grand strategy of perpetuating its status as the worlds only military superpower.

The [US] military, declared President George W Bush, must be ready to strike at a moments notice in any dark corner of the world.[3] To do this, the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review, an official document required by the US Congress of the Pentagon to articulate US military strategy, states that the US is seeking to move away from obsolete Cold War garrisons to mobile, expeditionary operations.[4]

Reduced footprint
The plan is simple: Instead of concentrating its troops and equipment in only a few locations, the United States will decrease the number of large well-equipped bases and increase the number of smaller, simpler bases in more locations.[5]

Marine Gen. James Jones, commander of US forces in Europe, described the aim as developing a family of bases that could go from cold to warm to hot if you need them but without having the small town USA-feel, complete with schools and families that have typically come with such bases.[6]

Recognition of the rising opposition to the US military presence around the world is also driving these changes. As early as in 1988, a US government commission created during the Reagan administration concluded that, We have found it increasingly difficult, and politically costly to maintain bases.[7]

Apart from those in the Philippines, US bases have been closed or terminated in recent years in Puerto Rico, Panama, and recently Ecuador, as a result of public mobilizations. Turkey refused to allow the US to use its bases for the invasion in Iraq. Even in Japan and Korea, hostility to bases has been growing.

Hence, the US has been trying to restructure its overseas presence in a way that aims to undermine this growing opposition. As US Navy Rear Admiral Richard Hunt, the Joint Staffs deputy director for strategy and policy said, We dont want to be stepping all over our host nations. We want to exist in a very non-intrusive way.[8]

The aim, according to the Pentagon, is to reduce the forward footprint of the military while increasing its agility and flexible.[9]

Mission presence
As part of this over-all reconfiguration, the Pentagon now categorizes its overseas structures into three: Main Operating Bases (MOBs), Forward Operating Sites (FOSs), and Cooperative Security Locations (CSLs). (See sidebar).

FOSs and CSLs are also called lily pads intended to allow the US to hop from MOBs to their destinations rapidly when needed but without requiring a lot of resources to keep them running when not needed.[10] Referring to this kind of base, Gen. Jones said, We could use it for six months, turn off the lights, and go to another base if we need to.[11]

But, as mentioned earlier, the US definition of global posture goes way beyond physical structures. In an effort to maximize its forward presence while minimizing opposition, the US has also been seeking to increase what US Air Force-sponsored analysts call mission presence and limited access.

Mission presence is what the US has in countries where there are ongoing military missions which lack the breadth and capability to qualify as true forward presence but nonetheless contribute to the overall US posture abroad.

Limited access is the kind the United States gets through exercises, visits, and other operations.[12]

Hence, the US global posture encompasses, by definition, not just those who are forward-based, or those units that are stationed in foreign countries on a long-term basis such as troops in Korea and Japan, but also those who are forward-deployed, or those who are sent overseas to conduct various kinds of deployments, exercises, or operations.

The greatest potential to compete
If, in the Cold War, the US overseas presence targeted the Soviet Union and other communist and nationalist forces in the Third World, today, the US current global posture is aimed at any state or non-state forces perceived to be threatening the interests of the United States.

Terrorists stand in the line of fire. Regional powers hostile to the United States, such as Iran and North Korea, have also been singled out. But, in light of the United States self-declared grand strategy of preventing the rise of rivals who could threaten its preeminent status, one rising power is now clearly in its sights - China.

For years, American officials have been divided between those who believe that China could be a strategic partner to be engaged and those who believe that it is a strategic competitor to be confronted militarily before it grows more powerful. Since the end of the Cold War, indications are that the latter view has prevailed.

As early as 1997, the Pentagons QDR had already identified China, along with Russia, as possible global peer competitors.[13] In 1999, a pivotal Pentagon think-tank conducted a seminar to lay down all the likely scenarios involving China. Its conclusion: no matter what happens, Chinas rise will not be peaceful for the US.

In 2000, a US Air Force-funded study argued explicitly in favor of preventing Chinas rise. Also in the same year, Robert Kagan and William Kristol, two influential commentators whose ideas have evidently molded US policy, proposed that Beijing - along with Baghdad - should be targeted for regime-change.[14] The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a grouping whose members and proposals have since staffed and shaped the Bush administration and its policies, supported the same aims and made similar recommendations.

During the US presidential elections, George W. Bush distinguished himself from other candidates by singling out China as a strategic competitor. Since then, various officials have successively warned that Chinas military modernization constitutes a direct threat to the United States.[15]

The Pentagons 2006 official report to Congress on China stated, Chinas military expansion is already such as to alter regional military balances.[16]

If in 2001 the QDR was still vaguely worded, by 2006, when the next QDR was released, the assessment became more explicit: Of the major and emerging powers, China has the greatest potential to compete militarily with the United StatesÉ[17]

Moving to Southeast Asia
The problem for the US is its relatively weak presence in Asia. As a Pentagon report on China, whose conclusions have been widely echoed, warned: Lack of forward operating bases or cooperative allies greatly limits the range of US military responses.[18]

What the US does have in terms of presence is now believed to be concentrated in the wrong place. Since the 1950s, the bulk of the US forward-presence in Asia has been in South Korea and Japan, directed towards the Soviet Union and North Korea. To address this, the US has been seeking expand southwards to Southeast Asia.[19]

By early 2002, the US began negotiating with various governments in Southeast Asia for use of bases in the region.[20] In 2003, then US Pacific Command chief Admiral Thomas B. Fargo, stated, Power projection and contingency response in Southeast Asia in the future will depend on this network of US access in areas with little or no permanent American basing structure.[21]

Along with the plans for East Asia and Southeast Asia, the US had also established bases to the west of China, in Central Asia, with new installations in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.[22] While it had none before the invasion of Afghanistan, by 2002 it had access to over a dozen bases in the region.[23]

With the US forward presence northeast of China (in Japan and South Korea), the deepening cooperation with Mongolia to Chinas north, and its deepening alliance with India, to Chinas southwest, the United States is slowly encircling China from all sides.

It is in light of these large, sweeping changes in US strategy, its perception of threats, and its tactics, that US military objectives regarding the Philippines can be best understood.

In the dragons liar
Since the late 1990s, a chorus of American defense analysts, military officials, civilian leaders, and influential commentators have identified the Philippines as playing a critical role in the US global posture and a succession of studies sponsored for different US military services have singled it out for its strategic location.

The PNAC, for example, had proposed that the US Navy should establish a home-port while the US Air Force should station a wing in the Philippines.[24] Another study for the US Air Force (USAF) noted the Philippines is located firmly within what US strategists have called the dragons lair or those areas of the Western Pacific where China could potentially seek to prevent the US from deploying.[25] Another US Air Force-funded study to develop a global access strategy for the US Air Force proposed renting an island from the Philippines for use as a military base.[26]

A 2006 USAF-funded study evaluating basing options for storing and pre-positioning US war material included the Philippines as among the most desirable sites. Exploring different alternatives, a US Army-sponsored research identified the Philippines as one of the suitable locations for a new unit of the Army.

Although proposals made by military analysts do not necessarily translate into action, it is clear that a consensus has been building that [A]ccess to Philippine facilities is much more important than most judged 12 years ago.[27]

The appearnce of bases
One obstacle however remains: domestic opposition to US military presence in thePhilippines. As yet another US Air Force-funded study acknowledges, On the matter of US access to military facilities in the Philippines, the general view of Philippine security experts is that for domestic political reasons it would be difficult to give the appearance that the United States is reestablishing its bases in the Philippines.[28]

Hence, the aim has been to avoid giving this appearance. As Admiral Dennis Blair, former commander of the US Pacific Command, explained, [W]e are adapting our plans and cooperation of the past to the future. Those plans do not include any request by the United States for bases in the Philippines of the kind that we have had in the past.[29]

Our basic interest, explained former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, is to have the ability to go into a country and have a relationship and have understandings about our ability to land or overfly and to do things that are of mutual benefit to each of us. But we don't have any particular plans for permanent bases if that's the kind of thing you mean.[30]

Thus, instead of the kind of bases we had in the past, the US is trying something new.

Training for access
First, the US has stepped up deploying troops, ships, and equipment to the country ostensibly for training exercises, humanitarian and engineering projects, and other missions.

Though the Visiting Forces Agreement was approved in 1998, it was only in 2001 that the number and the size of troops involved in training exercises jumped significantly. Last year alone, up to 37 exercises were scheduled; up from around 24 in the preceding years.[31] As many as 5,000 US troops are involved, depending on the exercise. As a result of these continuing deployments, former US Ambassador to the Philippines Francis Ricciardone has described the US presence in the country as semi-continuous.[32]

Apart from training allied troops, the holding of joint exercises allows the US to gain temporary - but repeated and regular - access to the territories of countries in which the exercises are held. As former US PACOM head Admiral Thomas Fargo noted in March 2003, The habitual relationships built through exercises and training is our biggest guarantor of access in time of need.[33]

He said: Access over time can develop into habitual use of certain facilities by deployed US forces with the eventual goal of being guaranteed use in a crisis, or permission to preposition logistics stocks and other critical material in strategic forward locations.[34]

As US troops come and go in rotation for frequent and regular exercises, their presence - when taken together - makes up a formidable forward-presence that brings them closer to areas of possible action without need for huge infrastructure to support them and without inciting a lot of public attention and opposition.

As analyst Eric Peltz has told the US House Armed Services Committee: Other methods of positioning, such as training rotations, can provide a temporary forward position or sustain a long-term position without permanent forward unit basing.[35]

And as US troops depart, they leave behind the infrastructure that they had built and used ostensibly for the exercises and which could still be of use to the US military in the future for missions different from those for which they were initially built.

In General Santos City, for example, the US constructed a deepwater port and one of the most modern domestic airports in the country, connected to each other by one of the countrys best roads. In Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, where US troops routinely go for exercises, the airport has been renovated and its runway strengthened to carry the weight of C-130 planes.[36] In Basilan and Sulu, venues of Balikatan exercises, the US, through USAID, has also built roads and ports that can berth huge ships.

This is consistent with a USAF-funded study which recommended having more deployments to have more infrastructure. By increasing deployments, notes the study, the US can get into arrangements that include measures to tailor local infrastructure to USAF operations by extending runways, improving air traffic control facilities, repairing parking aprons and the like.[37]

Along with troops, an increasing number of ships have also been entering the country with growing frequency ostensibly for exercises and humanitarian missions. [T]he Navy counts those ships as providing overseas presence full time, even when they are training or simply tied up at the pier, said the US Congressional Budget Office.[38]

As has been discussed earlier, the US sees these regular and frequent temporary deployments as part of its global posture. As the US National Defense Strategy states, Our posture also includes the many military activities in which we engage around the world. This means not only our physical presence in key regions, but also our training, exercises, and operations.[39]

Base services without permanent basing
Second, the US has obliged the Philippines to provide it with a broad range of locally-provided services that would enable it to launch and sustain operations from the Philippines when necessary.

In September 2001, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo granted the US free access to its ports and offered it overflight rights.[40] In November 2002, the US and Philippine governments signed the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) which has been described by researchers with the US Congressional Research Service as allowing the United States to use the Philippines as a supply base for military operations throughout the region.[41]

The MLSA obliges the Philippine government to exert best efforts to provide the US logistics supplies, support and services during exercises, training, operations, and other US military deployments. The agreement defines these to include food, water, petroleum, oils, clothing, ammunition, spare parts and components, billeting, transportation, communication, medical services, operation support, training services, repair and maintenance, storage services, and port services. Construction and use of temporary structures is also covered.[42]

In other words, the MLSA gives the US access to the full range of services that the US military would require to operate in and from the country. Through the MLSA, the US has secured for itself the services that it would normally be able to provide itself inside a large permanent base but without constructing and retaining large permanent bases Ð and without incurring the costs and the political problems that such bases pose.

Cooperative security locations
Third, the US has established in the Philippines a new category of military installations it calls Cooperative Security Locations (CSLs).

In August 2005, the Overseas Basing Commission, the official commission tasked to review US basing, categorically identified the Philippines as one of the countries where CSLs are being developed by the United States in the region.[43] As mentioned earlier, CSLs is a new category of bases that refers to facilities owned by host-governments but are to be made available for use by the US military as needed.

The Philippine government has not disclosed the locations and other details about these CSLs. But the description by Robert Kaplan, a prominent American journalist and best-selling author who has visited such facilities around the world, is quoted here in full because of the dearth of information about them and because parts of it could be describing the Philippines.

"A cooperative security location can be a tucked-away corner of a host country's civilian airport, or a dirt runway somewhere with fuel and mechanical help nearby, or a military airport in a friendly country with which we have no formal basing agreement but, rather, an informal arrangement with private contractors acting as go-betweensÉ The United States provides aid to upgrade maintenance facilities, thereby helping the host country to better project its own air and naval power in the region. At the same time, we hold periodic exercises with the host country's military, in which the base is a focus. We also offer humanitarian help to the surrounding area. Such civil-affairs projects garner positive publicity for our military in the local media. The result is a positive diplomatic context for getting the host country's approval for use of the base when and if we need it."[44]

The terms of the MLSA and the establishment of CSLs reflect the US increasing emphasis on just-in-time logistics support and pre-positioning of equipment to ensure that US forces - dispersed as they are to be around the world, often far away from main bases where they store equipment and use all kinds of services - are always ready and on the go. Therefore, it is not so much the size of the base that matters but whether it can provide the US military with what it needs, when its needed.

As the Council on Foreign Relations points out: While host nation support often carries the connotation of basing, its role of staging and access is perhaps more critical. Support for port visits, ship repairs, overflight rights, training areas, and opportunities, and areas to marshal, stage, repair, and resupply are no less important for both daily US presence in the region and for rapid and flexible crisis response.[45]

Forward operating operating base
Fourth, the US has succeeded in indefinitely stationing a US military unit in the country.

Since 2002, a unit now called the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTFP) has been deployed to the southern Philippines. While initially presented as being part of on-again off-again temporary training exercises, it has since been revealed that this unit has maintained its presence in the country continuously for the last six years.

With the Philippine government not giving a definite exit date, and with US officials stating that this unit will stay on as long as they are allowed by the government, it is presumed that it will continue to be based in the Philippines for the long-haul.

The unit is headquartered in the Philippine militarys Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City [46] but its area of operations, according to a US military publication, spans 8,000 square miles, covering the entire island of Mindanao and its surrounding islands and seas.[47]

According to a comprehensive compilation of various media reports, the number of troops belonging to the unit has ranged between 100 and 450 but it is not clear what the actual total is for a specific period.[48] It varies depending on the season and the mission, said US Lt. Col. Mark Zimmer, JSOTF-P public affairs officer.[49]

When it was publicly revealed last month that the US Department of Defense, via a US military construction unit, had granted a contract to a company providing base operations support for the JSOTF-P[50], the US embassy admitted that US was setting up allegedly temporary structures for medical, logistical, administrative services and facilities for for them to eat, sleep and work.[51] The Philippines own Visiting Forces Commission also confirmed that the US maintains living quarters and stocks supplies inside Philippine military camps.[52]

For the containment of China
Referring to their bases in Mindanao as forward operating base-11 and advanced operating base-921,[53] the JSOTF-P corresponds to what a US Air Force-sponsored study described as the ongoing redefinition of what forward presence means.[54]

In terms of profile and mission, the JSOTF-P is similar to the Combined Joint Task Force Ð Horn of Africa (CJTF-Horn of Africa) which was established in Djibouti in eastern Africa in 2003, also composed mostly of Special Forces, and which has been described as a sample of the US austere basing template and the model for future US military operations.[55]

Indeed, more deployments similar to that of the JSOTF-P and CJTF-Horn of Africa are planned in other locations around the world in the future.[56] In 2004, former PACOM commander Thomas Fargo talked about expanding Special Operations Forces in the Pacific.[57] Apparently referring to the JSOTF-P, former defense secretary Rumsfeld had also announced that the Pentagon would establish more nodes for special operations forces.

In place of traditional overseas bases with extensive infrastructure, Rumsfeld said, we intend to use smaller forward operating bases with prepositioned equipment and rotational presence of personnel. We will maintain a smaller forward-presence force in the Pacific while also stationing agile, expeditionary forces capable of rapid responses at our power projection bases.[58]

The JSOFT-Ps characteristics fit this description. Modest and austere, the JSOTF-P has none of the extensive infrastructure and facilities of the former US bases in Subic and Clark. But with the availability of local logistics and other services assured, the free entry of ships and planes and the pre-positioning of equipment allowed, and with the new roads, ports, and other infrastructure the US has been building in the area, the US Special Forces will be ready and able at a moments notice to launch and sustain its operations in the region.

As evidenced by the fact that most Filipinos are not even aware of their presence and their actions, the JSOTF had succeeded, notes Kaplan, as a political mechanism for getting an American base-of-sorts up and running.[59] C.H. Briscoe, command historian of the US Army Special Operations Command, under which the units of the JSOTF-P belong, concurs: After more than 10 years, PACOM has reestablished an acceptable presence in the Philippines.[60]

Strategically positioned between two routes at the entrance of a major sea-lane, the Makassar Strait, at the southwestern rim of the South China Sea and closer to Malaysia and Indonesia than most of the rest of the Philippines, the JSOTF-P, according to Briscoe, is now better able to monitor the pulse of the region.[61]

Having secured this presence, the US has become closer to the country with the greatest potential to compete militarily with it. By getting the US semi-permanently based south of Luzon for the first time since World War II, Kaplan notes that the larger-than-necessary base complex in Zamboanga has delivered more than tactical benefits.[62] In the minds of the US Army strategists, Kaplan notes: Combating Islamic terrorism in this region [Southeast Asia] carried a secondary benefit for the United States: it positioned the US for the future containment of nearby China.[63]

Qualitatevly transformed
All of the steps discussed above have paved the way for the gradual and incremental re-entry of the US military to the Philippines. At no time, since 1991, has US military presence been more entrenched. At the same time, this presence is no longer the same; it has been qualitatively transformed.

No longer are US troops permanently stationed and confined inside large bases in two locations in the country. Drawn instead from rotational forces, the troops have been deploying in various locations all over the country for exercises and other missions. Instead of being massed in the thousands inside huge fortifications flying the US flag, they are in the hundreds, dispersed and housed inside camps that technically belong to the Philippine military.
In the past, US troops could, despite the occasional deployment, expect to stay for long periods of time, stationed in the same base for years. Now, they are to be always ready and on the move, prepared to take part in shorter but more frequent deployments overseas.
Before, they stored their equipment, weapons, and supplies in huge storerooms and warehouses inside their base complex at all times, ready to lift and carry them wherever they went; now, they are scattering and storing their equipment and supplies in various locations, guarded and maintained by host-nation governments or private companies, and ready to be picked up on the way to the fighting.

All these changes in the Philippines are driven by the overlapping goals of building up support for and countering domestic opposition to US presence while improving the agility and efficiency of the US military.

Trial baloons
But this too could change: for while large bases have their disadvantages, they also provide the guaranteed access, capacities, and other advantages that smaller more austere bases cannot. Also, while the kind of basing that the US is developing now can be useful for certain scenarios, they may not be appropriate and sufficient for others. In case of a long drawn-out standoff, for instance, it would take more than 500 Special Forces stationed in relatively simple bases to sustain US military operations.
Hence, given the right moment and given the need, if plans are not in fact afoot, the US may still want to re-establish larger bases in the Philippines. Given US strategy and the Philippines location, the possibility cannot be ruled out. Indeed, the frequent reports that the US is trying to re-establish bases in the country have been characterized by an analyst with the Brookings Institute as trial balloons to test the atmosphere.[64]
For the moment, however, it cannot be said that just because the US does not have large bases of the kind it used to have, the US has not been securing its military objectives in the country. Through the back-door and largely out of sight, the US has gradually but incrementally reintegrated the Philippines firmly within its global posture.
All these may have effectively reversed that historic decision, taken 16 years ago, to end nearly a century of US military presence in the country.#

[1] US Department of Defense Report to Congress, Strengthening US Global Defense Posture, September 2004.
[2] US Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith, Prepared Statement before the House Armed Services Committee, June 23, 2004, US Department of Defense website: [Accessed September 10, 2007].
[3] quoted in G. John Ikenberry, Americas Imperial Ambition, Foreign Affairs September/Octoberober 2002, Vol 81. No 5.
[4 US Department of Defense, Quadrennial Defense Review 2001, Washington D.C., February 6, 2006, pp. v-vi, [Accessed September 10, 2007].
[5] US Department of Defense Report to Congress, Strengthening US Global Defense Posture, September 2004.
[6] Center for Defense Information, Worldwide Reorientation of US Military Basing, September 19, 2003, [Accessed September 10, 2007].
[7] Commission on Integrated Long-Term Strategy, Discriminate Deterrence (Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, January 1988), p. 22, quoted in Christine Wing, The United States in the Pacific, in Joseph Gerson and Bruce Richards, eds., The Sun Never Sets: Confronting the Network of Foreign US Military Bases (Boston, MA: South End Press, 1991), p. 144.
[8] Jim Garamone, Global Posture Part and Parcel of Transformation, American Forces Press Service, October 14, 2004
[9] US Department of Defense, Quadrennial Defense Review 2001, Washington DC, p. 53.
[10] John D. Klaus, US Military Overseas Basing: Background and Oversight Issues for Congress, Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, November 17, 2004.
[11] quoted in David Isenberg, The US Global Posture Review: Reshaping Americas Global Military Footprint, Basic Notes: Occasional Papers on International Security Policy, British American Security Information Council, November 19, 2004, p. 3.
[12] David Shlapak, John Stillion, Olga Oliker, and Tanya Charlick-Paley, A Global Access Strategy for the US Air Force, Sta. Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2002, pp. 17-18.
[13] US Department of Defense, Quadrennial Defense Review 1997, Washington DC.
[14] Robert Kagan and William Kristol, The Present Danger, The National Interest, Number 59 Spring 2000.
[15] George Tenet, Director of Central Intelligence Agency, The Worldwide Threat in 2003: Evolving Dangers in a Complex World, February 11, 2003, 
[Accessed September 10, 2007]; Conn Hallinan, Cornering the Dragon, Counterpunch, February 23, 2005,
[Accessed September 10, 2007]; Mark Mazzetti, Chinese Arms Threaten Asia, Rumsfeld Says, Los Angeles Times, June 4, 2005)
[16] Office of the Secretary of Defense, Military Power of the Peoples Republic of China 2006: Annual Report to Congress, Washington D.C., [Accessed September 9, 2007]
[17] US Department of Defense, Quadrennial Defense Review 2001, Washington D.C., February 6, 2006, p. 29, [Accessed September 10, 2007]
[18] Under Secretary of Defense (Policy), 1999 Summer Study Final Report, Asia 2025 Organized by the Advisor to the Secretary of Defense for Net Assessment, 25 July to 4 August 1999, Newport Rhode Island, [Accessed June 12, 2007], p. 76.
[19] Zalmay Khalilzad, David T. Orletsky, Jonathan D. Pollack, Kevin L. Pollpeter, Angel Rabasa, David A. Shlapak, Abram N. Shulsky, Ashley J. Tellis, The United States and Asia: Toward a New US Strategy and Force Posture, Sta Monica CA: Rand Corporation, 2001; Under Secretary of Defense (Policy), 1999 Summer Study Final Report, Asia 2025 Organized by the Advisor to the Secretary of Defense for Net Assessment, 25 July to 4 August 1999, Newport Rhode Island, [Accessed June 12, 2007]; Project for the New American Century, Rebuilding Americas Defenses: Strategy, Forces, and Resources for a New Century, September 2000.
[20] Michael Richardson, US Wants More Use of South Asian Bases, International Herald Tribune, February 8, 2002.
[21] Admiral Thomas Fargo, transcript of hearing of US House of Representatives Committee on International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, June 26, 2003.
[22] Robert D. Kaplan, How we would fight China, The Atlantic Monthly, June 2005, [Accessed June 14, 2005].
[23] Rosemary Foot, US Foreign- and Domestic-policy Realignments after September 11, Adelphi Papers, Volume 44, Issue 363, February 2004.
[24] Project for the New American Century, Rebuilding Americas Defenses: Strategy, Forces, and Resources for a New Century, September 2000, Washington DC, p. 35.
[25] Roger Cliff, Mark Burles, Michael S. Chaise, Derek Eaton, Kevin L. Pollpeter, Entering the Dragons Lair: Chinese Antiaccess Strategies and their Implications for the United States, Sta Monica, CA: RAND Corporation Project Air Force, 2007, p. 112.
[26] David Shlapak, John Stillion, Olga Oliker, and Tanya Charlick-Paley, A Global Access Strategy for the US Air Force, Sta. Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2002, p. xxii.
[27] Michael McDevitt, US Strategy in the Asia Pacific Region: Southeast Asia, in US Strategy in the Asia-Pacific Region conference proceedings, May 5, 2003.
[28] Zalmay Khalilzad, David T. Orletsky, Jonathan D. Pollack, Kevin L. Pollpeter, Angel Rabasa, David A. Shlapak, Abram N. Shulsky, Ashley J. Tellis, The United States and Asia: Toward a New US Strategy and Force Posture, Sta Monica CA: Rand Corporation, 2001, p. 182.
[29] Transcript, Press Conference with Admiral Dennis Blair, Commander in Chief, US Pacific Command, Manila, July 13, 2001.
[30] Transcript, Press Conference with US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, April 25, 2002 [Accessed September 10, 2007].
[31] Carolyn O. Arguillas, Q and A with US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone: Ops-Intel-fusion is not spying, MindaNews, February 28, 2005; Jojo Due, Biggest RP-US military exercise starts next week, Philippine Business Daily Mirror, February 17, 2006.
[32] Carolyn O. Arguillas, Q and A with US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone: Ops-Intel-fusion is not spying, MindaNews, February 28, 2005.
[33] Admiral Thomas Fargo, transcript of hearing of US House of Representatives Committee on International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, June 26, 2003.
[34] Admiral Thomas Fargo, Transcript of Hearing of US House of Representatives Committee on International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, June 26, 2003.
[35] Eric Peltz, Toward an Expeditionary Army: New Options for Combatant Commanders, Testimony Presented to the House Armed Services Committee on March 24, 2004, p. 3.
[36] Karl Wilson, US force in Asia to become smaller but deadlier, Daily Times, August 22, 2004.
[37] Zalmay Khalilzad, David T. Orletsky, Jonathan D. Pollack, Kevin L. Pollpeter, Angel Rabasa, David A. Shlapak, Abram N. Shulsky, Ashley J. Tellis, The United States and Asia: Toward a New US Strategy and Force Posture, Sta Monica CA: Rand Corporation, 2001, p. 63.
[38] Congress of the United States Congressional Budget Office, Options for the Navys Future Fleet, May 2006
[39] US Department of Defense, National Defense Strategy 2005, Washington D.C., pp. 18-19.
[40] Rufi Vigilar, Philippines opens its ports to U.S. military, CNN, September 18, 2001.
[41] Thomas Lum and Larry A. Niksch, The Republic of the Philippines: Background and US Relations, Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, January 10, 2006, [Accessed August 25, 2007]; Sheldon W. Simon, Theater Security Cooperation in the US Pacific Command, National Bureau of Asian Research Analysis, Volume 14, Number 2, August 2003.
[42] Mutual Logistics Support Agreement Between the Department of Defense of the United States of America and the Department of National Defense of the Republic of the Philippines, November 21, 2002.
[43] Overseas Basing Commission, Report to the President and Congress, August 15, 2005, p. H11, [Accessed August 25, 2007].
[44] Robert D. Kaplan, How we would fight China, The Atlantic Monthly, June 2005, [Accessed June 14, 2005].
[45] Council on Foreign Relations, The United States and Southeast Asia: A Policy Agenda for the New Administration, July 2001, pp. 47-48. [Accessed September 10, 2007].
[46] Robert Kaplan, Imperial Grunts: On the Ground with the American Military from Mongolia to the Philippines to Iraq and Beyond, New York: Vintage Books 2006, p.147.
[47] T.D. Flack, Special Operations Force Aiding an Important Ally, Stars and Stripes, March 11, 2007; Col. Gregory Wilson, Anatomy of a Successful COIN Operation: OEF-Philippines and the Indirect Approach, Military Review, November to December 2006.
[48] At start of the deployment in January 2002, there were supposed to be 160 to 250 who were joining. (Steve Vogel, Americans Arrive in Philippines U.S. Special Forces To Aid Filipino Army In Threatened Areas, Washington Post, January 16, 2002; Fe B. Zamora, All US troops will leave on July 31, says Wurster, Philippine Daily Inquirer, July 1, 2002; Pat Roque, US Special Forces in Philippines, Associated Press, February 18, 2002; Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough, Philippine confusion, Washington Times, February 8, 2002). In November 2002, the Army Magazine reported that there were 260 members of the task force were in the southern Philippines. (Army Magazine, News Call, November 1, 2002). In February 2003, 350 Special Forces were reportedly scheduled to be sent to Sulu but this was postponed. (Eric Schmitt, US combat force of 1700 is headed to the Philippines, New York Times, February 21, 2003; Bradley Graham, US Bolsters Philippine Force, Washington Post, February 21, 2003) In Octoberober 2003, 300 Special Forces were reported to be in Basilan (US spy aircraft deployed in Philippines, Octoberober 13, 2003 The News International (Pakistan). By February 2006, 250 more troops were reported to be joining those who were already in Sulu but it was not clear how many were still there at that time (RP-US to conduct war games amid rape controversy, Philipine Daily Inquirer, January 10, 2006; No time frame of US troops stay in Sulu, Mindanews, January 17, 2006). Shortly after, US military spokesperson Capt Burrel Parmer announced that 400 US troops will be Sulu for various projects. (Ding Cervantes, 5,500 US military personnel coming for Balikatan 2006, Philippine Star, February 17, 2006). In September 2006, 114 US troops were reported to have arrived in Zamboanga City as part of the normal rotation of soldiers under JSOTF-P, according to the US embassy. (Julie Alipala, 100 GIs held at Zambo immigration, Philippine Daily Inquirer, September 28, 2006). In February 2007, US today reported 450 and Reuters put the number at 100 (Paul Wiseman, In Philippines, US Making Progress in War on Terror, USA Today, Februay 13, 2007; Philippines increases security for US forces, Reuters, February 26, 2007).
[49] Civilians want probe on US militarys alleged supervision in Sulu war, MindaNews, November 24, 2005.
[50] In August 2007, Focus on the Global South publicized the granting by the US Deparment of Defense, through the US Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), of a six-month $14.4-million contract to a certain Global Contingency Services LLC of Irving, Texas for operations support for the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P). According to its own website, the NAVFAC is the unit within the US military that is in charge of providing the US Navy with operating, support, and training bases. It manages the planning, design, and construction and provides public works support for US Naval shore installations around the world. Among their business lines are bases development and contingency engineering. According to the announcement by the Pentagon, the contract awarded to Global Contingency Services LLC includes all labor, supervision, management, tools, materials, equipment, facilities, transportation, incidental engineering, and other items necessary to provide facilities support services. Global Contingency Services LLC is a partnership between DynCorp International, Parsons Global Services, and PWC Logistics. The $14.4 million contract is actually part of a bigger $450-million five-year contract for Global Contingency Services to provide a full range of world-wide contingency and disaster-response services, including humanitarian assistance and interim or transitional base-operating support services. According to DynCorps website, this will include facility operations and maintenance; air operations; port operations; health care; supply and warehousing; galley; housing support; emergency services; security, fire, and rescue; vehicle equipment; and incidental construction. Contingency Response Services LLC describes its work as encompassing operating forces support, community support, and base support. According to the Defense Industry Daily publication, the contract also includes morale, welfare, and recreation support. The specific contract for work for the JSOTF-P is expected to be completed in January 2008 but other contracts may follow as part of the $450 million-package. (Contracts, June 6, 2007, US Department of Defense, ; Press Release, DynCorp International and JV Partners Win $450 million NAVFAC Contract, DynCorp International, November 2, 2006,; Contingency Response Services, DynCorp International,; Defense Industry Daily, $14.4M to help US SOCOM in the Philippines, June 8, 2007,; Ethan Butterfield, DynCorp lands $450M Navy Contingency Services Deal, Washington Technology, November 3, 2006; [Accessed August 20, 2007]
[51] US denies building bases in Mindanao, GMANews.TV, August 27, 2007.
[52] Veronica Uy, VFACom Chief Denies US bases in Mindanao,, August 24, 2007.
[53] Maj. Kevin T. Henderson, US Army, Army Special Operations Forces and Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) Integration: Something a Joint Task Force Commander should Consider, monograph, United States Army Command and General Staff College, School of Advanced Military Studies, May 19, 2004; Cherilyn Walley, Impact of the semi-permissive environment on force protection in Philippine engagements, Special Warfare, September 2004; T.D. Flack, When Visiting Jolo, Show a Little Courtesy, Please, Stars and Stripes, March 12, 2007.[54] Andrew R. Hoehn, Adam Grissom, David A. Ochmanek, David A. Shlapak, Alan J. Vick, A New Division of Labor: Meeting Americas Security Challenges Beyond Iraq, Sta. Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2007, p.15.
[55] Stanley A. Weiss, After Iraq, a New US Military Model, International Herald Tribune, December 27, 2006.
[56] Greg Jaffe, Rumsfeld details big military shift in new document, Wall Street Journal, March 11, 2005.
[57] US Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Testimony to Senate Armed Service Committee, Washington DC, September 23, 2004; Admiral Thomas B. Fargo, Regarding the Defense Global Forces Posture Review, Testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, September 23, 2004.
[58] US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Annual Report to the President and the Congress 2005, p. 36.
[59] Robert Kaplan, Imperial Grunts: On the Ground with the American Military from Mongolia to the Philippines to Iraq and Beyond, New York: Vintage Books 2006, p.150.
[60] C.H. Briscoe, Reflections and Observations on ARSOF Operations During Balikatan 02-1, Special Warfare, September 2004.
[61] C.H. Briscoe, Reflections and Observations on ARSOF Operations During Balikatan 02-1, Special Warfare, September 2004.
[62] Robert Kaplan, Imperial Grunts: On the Ground with the American Military from Mongolia to the Philippines to Iraq and Beyond, New York: Vintage Books 2006, p.178.
[63] Robert Kaplan, Imperial Grunts: On the Ground with the American Military from Mongolia to the Philippines to Iraq and Beyond, New York: Vintage Books 2006, p.134.
[64] Catharin Dalpino, Separatism and Terrorism in the Philippines: Distinctions and Options for US Policy, Testimony to Subcommitee on East Asia and the Pacific, House International Relations Committee, June 10, 2003.

Herbert Docena ( - this e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it) is a researcher with Focus on the Global ( South, a policy research institute.

This article was published in three parts by the Philippine Daily Inquirer from October 15 to 17:

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3