U.S. Bases In The Philippines AUTHOR Major Michael F. Kimlick, USMC CSC 1990 SUBJECT AREA National Military Strategy EXECUTIVE SUMMARY If the U.S. wants to maintain its influence and presence in the Pacific Rim, the bases in the Philippines are necessary to carry out that mission. With the perceived reduction in the Soviet threat, the need for forward- deployed forces and overseas bases is on the decline. In the Philippines, due to the U.S. lack of generosity with military and economic aid, there is a growing feeling that the lease on the bases should not be renewed. The bases in the Philippines support U.S. global strategy and are at the center of Washington's forward deployment strategy in the Pacific. Subic Naval Base and Clark Air Base are the two major bases. Subic Bay is the support base for the U.S. Seventh Fleet. For the Marines aboard the Amphibious Ready Group the bases in the Philippines serve a definite purpose. After departing CONUS there is no other opportunity for the Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) commander to off-load from the ships in one location and conduct realistic training to maintain its warfighting ability. Although there are other alternatives if the leases for bases in the Philippines are not renewed, none of them offer the U.S. a centralized location where the Navy is able to take care of its needs as well as the MEU being able to conduct training. This combination gives the U.S. the best ability to project itself in the Pacific. U.S. BASES IN THE PHILIPPINES OUTLINE THESIS STATEMENT. With all the pros and cons being discussed in maintaining bases in the Philippines, the one argument being ignored and needs to be given higher priority is that a MAGTF afloat needs a place to train to maintain its warfighting skills. I. Location A. Presence in Pacific region B. Stepping-stone for further operations II. Logistics A. Naval-Naval Supply Depot B. MAGTF 1. GCE 2. ACE 3. MSSG III. Repair Facilities A. Naval Ships-Ship Repair Facility B. Aircraft-engine and aircraft rework facilities IV. Training A. GCE-practice supporting arms coordination B. ACE-maintain and increase CRP C. MSSG-exercise CSS assets D. MEU-integrating training V. Other Southeast Asian Options VI. The MEU still needs to accomplish all its training needs after leaving CONUS and be located in one location with the Amphibious Ready Group. U.S. BASES IN THE PHILIPPINES With all the pros and cons being discussed in main- taining U.S. bases in the Philippines, the one argument being ignored and needs to be given a higher priority is that the Marine Corps needs a place to train its WESTPAC MAGTF afloat to maintain its warfighting skills. To maintain U.S. influence in the Pacific Rim and if U.S. policy dictates that the U.S. should maintain a forward presence in the Pacific, our bases in the Philippines are necessary to carry out that mission. This issue can be viewed from our National Security Interests, National Strategy or Military Strategy. These issues will be covered, but the main focus of this paper will be toward what the bases in the Philippines mean to our MEU Commanders. These MAGTF Commanders are task with being the cutting edge of the sword of our foreign policy. If our policy as directed by the politician should fail, then as Carl Von Clausewitz stated in his book, On War, "War is a mere continuation of policy by other means." Our MAGTF's afloat need to be ready to use force to reach the political objective. As Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev attempts to steer the Soviet Union into the 21st century with his Glasnost/ Perestroika reforms, and with Communist regimes crumbling in Eastern Europe, there is a perceived reduction in the Soviet threat. With the Soviet Union reduction in force, the desire for the host country to want a U.S. presence will be on the decline. Aside from the massive political changes developing in Eastern Europe, the Asia-Pacific region is the most dynamic region in the world today. It is an area where the growing economic and political influence of its nation is having global impact, and where the interests of four world powers, the United States, the Soviet Union, China, and Japan intersect. And it is a region in which, for probably the first time in its post-World War II history, economic and political concerns have taken precedence over security concerns. Growing nationalism in noncommunist developing Pacific nations has become one of the most important political challenges the U.S. faces as it considers its future presence in this region. Open alliance with the U.S. or any other great power is viewed as an infringement on the independence of nations in the region. Although they do not want the U.S. to leave the region because of the economic and security advantages they derive from a U.S. presence, military forces on their soil, particularly if doing so would involve a long-term military presence. In addition, external security considerations and the need for external protection are figuring less prominently as Pacific nations, particularly in Southeast Asia, direct their attention toward internal societal problems. When an external threat is considered, Southeast Asian nations regard Japan, Korea, and China, not the Soviet Union as a longer-term problem. This attitude creates difficulties for the U.S., which sees its interests threatened by a continuous Soviet influence and presence in the region. (3:56) The U.S. defends its interests throughout the world by forward-deploying its forces and structuring this forward defense around a coalition of allied and friendly nations. In the Pacific region, the U.S. maintains military forces in mainland Japan, Okinawa, Guam, South Korea, and the Philippines. In Japan our defense ties are formalized by the United States-Japan Treaty of Cooperation. Although we took responsibility for her defense after WWII, a consensus has emerged in both the U.S. and Japan that Japan should undertake the primary responsibility to defend its own homeland, territorial seas and skies. In 1985 the government of Japan incorporated that concept into its current Five-Year Defense Plan. Japan's defense spending has increased more than five percent per year in real terms for the past five years and Japan has been encouraged to continue modernizing its forces in order to carry out its legitimate defense responsibilities. (6:30) Presently our biggest U.S. force there now is the Air Force with two tactical fighter wings. Both the Navy and Marine Corps also have several bases there, most notably naval facilities and air bases. Although part of Japan, Okinawa needs to be addressed as a separate issue. Okinawa comes under the umbrella of the Japanese Defense Force but our military commitment on the island has a completely different mix of U.S. forces. It has one major Air Force Base and a small naval facility for logistic support. The majority of the military facilities belong to the Marine Corps which has one air station and several bases scattered over the island. Okinawa has been the home of the 3rd Marine Division and 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. With the expansion and growth of the Okinawa economy, the development on the island has started to erode and undermine the capability of the bases to have a strategic impact in the Pacific region. Guam, a U.S. territory, has both Navy and Air Force facilities. It has a harbor with some berthing capacity and a small ship repair and resupply facility. In addition, Anderson Air Force Base has the capability of handling the largest U.S. aircraft in the inventory and the ability to absorb more assets if needed. (5:58) In South Korea the U.S. Army is the largest force in the country. Their main mission is not to maintain U.S. influence over the entire Pacific Rim but to deter the North Koreans from crossing the 38th Parallel and attempting a Communist take-over. This alliance with South Korea remains vital to their regional stability and builds confidence in the effort to maintain economical development and political evolution. (6:31) The bases in the Philippines are by far the largest in the Pacific and have been the U.S. staging area for maintaining a naval presence in the region. The bases support military deployments in East Asia and the Persian Gulf as part of the U.S. global strategy and are at the center of Washington's forward deployment strategy in the Pacific. (11:40) In addition to this strategic objective, the bases play a role in maintaining stability in the region by providing a countervailing force to Soviet expansionary designs in the Pacific. The bases were established as a consequence of the American colonial occupation of the Philippines in 1898. When the Philippines gained independence in the early forties, the continued use of the bases was agreed upon between the Philippines and the U.S. in an Executive Agreement. After WWII Clark and Subic were established to provide not only protection to the Philippines but a general umbrella of security and surveillance to the Pacific. The original Military Base Agreement which was to run for 99 years was revised in 1966 with the "lease" being reduced to 25 years. In 1975, a new agreement decided on compensation for the Philippines. (7:105) The agreement was amended in 1979 to give full recognition of Philippine sovereignty over the bases, provide for Philippine command of all bases and return substantial areas to Philippine military control. In 1988 the Philippines and the U.S. signed an agreement permitting the U.S. to continue operating its naval base at Subic Bay and its air base at Clark Field for two more years, until 1991. (4:1) Today the status of our bases in the Philippines remains ambiguous. The renewal of leases for the U.S. bases continues to be a much debated issue in both countries. There is a growing feeling among the Manila political elite that a negotiated, phased withdrawal of the bases is inevitable. They support the view that the U.S. has not treated the Philippines well during base negotiations and that during future talks concerning the bases they would take into account the U.S. lack of generosity. (10:36) The Philippine government accused the Bush Administration of reneging on pledges of military and economic aid. At issue is a $96 million cut Congress made at the Bush administra- tion's request of $360 million to compensate the Philippines for Clark, Subic and four smaller U.S. facilities. (4:1) Defense Secretary Richard Cheney warned the Philippine government that the budget situation in Congress was undergoing significant reductions with competing foreign aid demands. (1:1) Filipino sentiments toward the U.S. and its military bases have been eroding this past decade. Filipino intellectuals perceive the presence of the bases as an extra-territorial act of the U.S. imposed on the Philippines. (2:203) The bases are seen as a vehicle that serves mainly the national interest of the U.S., enabling us to project power throughout the Pacific Basin. For most Filipinos, their concerns are more insular in nature. The nationalists among the Filipinos object to the subtle and not too subtle influences of the U.S. in Philippine political and economic affairs as a result of the strategic importance of the bases. (2:204) They view U.S. influence as not conducive to the development of the Philippine national identity. Unlike the nationalists, the pragmatic Filipino looks at the presence of the bases as something that could be tolerated if more economic benefits could be derived from them. (9:38) The current Philippine political situation should not be overlooked. The Aquino government continues to face major political, security and economic challenges. The Communist Insurgency, which had gained momentum from poverty, injustice and past military abuses, has suffered several major setbacks since 1988. With the breached in the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) security and the noted success of the army's Special Operation Teams, the military have achieved good results in winning back the confidence of the people. (10:36) President Corazon Aquino's economic reform needs to continue to alleviate the plight of the poor to undermine the CPP's attempt to regain support of the people living below the poverty line. With the turn of events in the Philippines, President Aquino's biggest threat may not be from the CPP but her own military. Disgusted with the poor pay and treatment along with the corruption that seems to run rampant through the higher echelons of government, military officials have been calling for reforms. Further hurting President Aquino's credibility has been her failure to make good on land reforms. There have been six coup attempts, with the latest being in December 1989. This attempt by rebel military forces was the bloodiest coup yet. U.S. Air Force F-4 jets out of Clark helped the Aquino government put down the coup by flying over Manila pinning rebel aircraft on the ground and provided an important psychological boost to loyal troops. The odds are that the Aquino Presidency will not survive until the 1992 elections. (8:18) The U.S. operates several military facilities within the Philippines. Subic Naval Base and Clark Air Base are the major components of these facilities. The naval facilities at Subic Bay comprise the primary port, training area, and logistics support base for the U.S. Seventh Fleet, while Clark Air Base is the headquarters of the Thirteenth Air Force. Besides the naval base at Subic, there is the Naval Supply Depot, Ship Repair Facility, Cubi Naval Air Station, Aircraft Rework Facility, Aircraft Jet Engine Power Plant Shop and some outlying facilities, such as a communication station that supports the U.S. Pacific forces. For the Marines aboard the Navy ships that form that Navy-Marine Corps Team known as the Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), consisting of a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), the Subic complex is like an oasis in the middle of a desert. From these facilities they can draw all of their logistic support to carry on their mission. The Naval Supply Depot not only is able to support the Navy ships of the ARG, but the three elements of the MEU, Ground Combat Element (GCE), Aviation Combat Element (ACE) and the MEU Service Support Group (MSSG) is also able to tap into the supply system, restock itself and take care of critical needs and shortfalls. The facilities at Subic also provide for the mainten- ance and repair of military platforms and equipment, they employ a highly skilled local work force. (5:21) The Ship Repair Facility (SRF) does an extensive amount of ship repairs, both planned and unplanned. Due to the cost savings, navy ships often rely on the SRF to do their major work during their WESTPAC deployments rather than U.S. shipyards. The Aircraft Rework Facility and Jet Engine Power Plant Shop offers the ACE repair capability that they can not get aboard the ship from the Intermediate Level Division. This service can become critical in maintaining aircraft availability if they should require it outside of CONUS. To the MEU Commander, besides all the services available to maintain the ships he sails on or the aircraft and vehicles he commands, the facilities at Subic offer the opportunity to train and fire their weapons. After leaving CONUS, life aboard ship mainly consists of standing in line three times a day on the mess deck and listening to classes being given in an environment that is probably too hot, too crowded and too noisy. That lean, green, well oiled fighting machine that smoked through the MCCRES has been reduced to a lethargic, sluggish Battalion Landing Team (BLT) in dire need of getting off the ship and stretching their legs. This is what makes the bases in the Philippines so unique compared to the other U.S. bases scattered through- out the Pacific. Here is where the MEU gets the opportunity to conduct realistic training for each of its combat elements plus the opportunity to combine them. The biggest concern for a MEU Commander should be the physical condition of his GCE after an extended stay aboard ship. There is no opportunity to maintain any resemblance of staying in combat shape. Even the Marines who are deployed on board the helicopter carrier of the ARG are in competition for flight deck time with the ACE conducting flight operations. The other ships with smaller flight decks just do not have the facilities for the Marines. For target practice, if given the opportunity and if it can be scheduled around flight ops or the ship's training schedule, the Marines may get the opportunity to fire their small arms off the fantail of the ship. Although not very realistic, it does give them the practice of cleaning carbon off their M-16's. This combination of being unable to maintain their physical conditioning and with very limited marksmanship training, it deteriorates the combat effectiveness of the individual Marine in the GCE. The training areas around the Subic complex offers some of the best training for Marines in the world. The opportunity to regain their legs can be accomplished through simple Company runs or for the more adventurous, conditioning hikes can take you up the famous and well known "Seven-Steps". The Jungle Survival School is also available and provides a good opportunity for the Marines to learn how to live off the land in the climate they are expected to fight in. A rifle and pistol range is also available for the MEU to use for practice firing or qualification. Other combat skills such as patrolling can also be practiced in the training areas, the training officers imagination would be his only limitation. The Zambalis Training Area, across from Subic Bay Naval Station, is the best live fire range in the Pacific. On Green and Red Beach a BLT can fire anything from a M-16 to the M-198. Besides having the opportunity to fire all their weapons, the GCE is afforded the opportunity to conduct supporting arms coordination training. Classes and wargaming is nice, but being able to move your BLT to a field environment to exercise your Fire Support Coordination Center where you can integrate the artillery, tank, motors etc., in a constructive scenario offers training that can not be duplicated anywhere else. Tactical Air Control Party can also be conducted at Wild Horse Creek. For the ACE, life aboard ship will be nonproductive. Helicopters will fly, helicopters will break, and helicopters will get fixed. Living and working spaces will be cramped and the troops will have twenty-four hours a day vice eight to do their job. Training itself will come to a stand still. The majority of the flying will be devoted to Pax, Mail and Cargo (PMC). Day and night carrier qualifications and formation flying is the range of training that can be accomplished off the ship. The aggressive and innovative squadrons will conduct Evasive Maneuvering (EVM) with other helicopters or the AV-8B's if they are attached to the ACE. But this training with fixed wing aircraft is only partially effective over water. After being aboard ship an extended period of time, Cubi Point Naval Air Station and the surrounding training areas offers the ACE an opportunity to maintain and increase its Combat Readiness Percentage. The ranges have certified TERF routes and areas to conduct Night Vision Goggles (NVG) Training, both Phase I and Phase II. The ACE will also be able to conduct EVM with the aggressor aircraft from VC-5 who are trained to fight using Soviet tactics. Dissimilar Combat Maneuvering can also be accomplished utilizing another squadron if they happen to be deployed to Cubi Point for training. Live fire training for Close Air Support and Close In Fire Suppression can be accomplished for the AV-8B, AH-1T's and UH-1N's utilizing Wild Horse Creek. Starting in approximately 1985, the MEU started to get access into Crow Valley, the Air Force Bombing Range outside of Clark Air Field. The Crow Valley Range is situated so that the ACE can put together a training exercise to fully integrate AV- 8B operation with helicopters, using all the current tactics, live ordnance and having it accomplished in a realistic scenario. The MSSG also benefit from an extended port call at Subic Bay. It affords them the chance to exercise their off-load plan, work out of a field environment at the Lower MEF Camp and fix their equipment. They can also adjust and change their load plan when re-embarking the ships. For the MEU Commander, being able to off-load and centralize in one location, he can integrate all three of his combat arms and truly train as a MAGTF vice having each of his elements, the GCE, ACE or MSSG off in their own little world doing their own thing. A MAGTF needs to train together if they are going to fight together. If the leases to our bases in the Philippines are not renewed then other alternatives must be looked at for the U.S. Other countries in the Pacific Basin must be willing to host U.S. forces if they want us to continue to have a presence in the area. The U.S. may have to ask the Japanese to take a few more aircraft at Misawa, Iwakuni and a few more bases. On the naval side, more ships may utilize the facilities at Sasebo and Atsugi. On Okinawa, with the lack of U.S. bases ability to expand and absorb the forces from the Philippines, Okinawa doesn't hold any potential for the future. Singapore, a member of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN), has constantly supported the retention of U.S. bases in the Philippines. Starting in August 89 it had begun holding talks with the U.S. concerning the transfer of some U.S. units to Singapore. Singapore could provide shipyard facilities to service the Seventh Fleet naval ships. Singaporean officials said that basing some U.S. forces in Singapore would make it easier for the Philippines to bear the burden of the U.S. bases. For the U.S., basing some naval forces in Singapore could result in Washington's getting caught up in ASEAN rivalries of those countries opposed to the stationing of U.S. forces there. On the air side, Brunei Darussalam may be persuaded to accommodate a tactical fighter wing and a tactical airlift wing formerly based at Clark. Although Thailand has indicated that it will not provide bases to the U.S., there is still a possibility that former U.S. air bases at Udorn and U Tapao, as well as the Sattahip deep water port, could be kept in a state of readiness at all times with the U.S. financial assistance. (3:60) Australia is considered a possible alternate, but geographically it doesn't present itself as a feasible alternative. Another attractive alternative is Guam. The U.S. will have to strengthen the infrastructure it has started there in the middle of this unstable but vital area. (5:21) For the U.S. to remain a Pacific influence through the projection of its air and naval power and to be able to respond to a low-intensity conflict, our military basing, access and transit rights in the Philippines is the key to U.S. power projection capabilities. Shifting our shipyard facilities to service the Seventh Fleet naval ships to Singapore or Japan is feasible. Gaining landing rights in Brunei Darussalam or stationing more aircraft in Japan is a possibility. All of the alternate plans that have been proposed can become reality if the situation in the Philippines is not worked out. But when you look at the overall picture, our bases in the Philippines gives the U.S. the capacity and the best ability to project itself in the Pacific. For the MEU Commander who will be responsible to carry out this political objective, he needs the facilities so that once the MAGTF departs CONUS he has the ability to maintain its warfighting skills. As attractive or feasible as the alternate plans may seem, none of them offer the U.S. a centralized location where the ARG is able to dock and have all its needs taken care of. From ship repairs to logistic support for the Navy, to supply and aircraft repairs for the MEU. Not to be overlooked and the most crucial item is the opportunity for the MEU to train, maintain and sharpen its warrior's spirit. BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. Drogin, Bob and Broder, John M., "Philippines Accuses U.S. of Reneging," Los Angeles Times, (Feb 20, 1990), p. 1. 2. Esteban, Enrique, "The Philippine Economy Toward the Year 2O0O," Pacific Security Toward the Year 2000, (1987 Pacific Symposium), p. 195-208. 3. Guran, Elizabeth, "Challenge in the Pacific:U.S. Basing Beyond the 1990s," Armed Forces Journal International, (Nov 1989), p. 56-60. 4. Loeb, Vernon, "Cheney Visits Manila," Philadelphia Inquirer, (Feb 20, 1990), p. 1. 5. McKearney, T.J., "Philippine Bases:Going, Going, Gone?," Proceedings, (Mar 1989), p. 21. 6. Reagan, Ronald, National Security Strategy of the United States, (Jan 1988). 7. Sassheen, R.S., "Bases Should Go Slowly," Asian Defense Journal, (Nov 1988), p. 105. 8. U.S. News & World Report, "Aquino's Allenation," (Feb 26, 1990), p. 18. 9. Young, P. Lewis, "Philippines Considering What To Do With Basis if U.S. Withdraws," Armed Forces Journal International, (Dec 1989), p. 38. 1O. Young, P. Lewis, "Philippine Defense Secretary on Insurgency, Future of U.S. Bases," Armed Forces Journal International, (Oct 1989), p. 36. 11. Young, P. Lewis, "International Politics at Core of Contentious Asia-Pacific Security Issues," Armed Forces Journal International, (Dec 1989), p. 38- 42.
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