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Operation Classic Resolve
Operation JTF-Philippines

In February 1986 an almost bloodless revolution brought Corazon Aquino into office as the seventh president of the Republic of the Philippines. Aquino had been swept into office on a wave of high expectations that she would be able to right all of the wrongs done to the Philippines under Marcos. When she could not do this and when the same problems recurred, Filipinos grew disillusioned.

Philippine politics between 1986 and 1991 was punctuated by Aquino's desperate struggle to survive physically and politically a succession of coup attempts, culminating in a large, bloody, and well-financed attempt in December 1989. This attempt, led by renegade Colonel Gregorio Honasan, involved upwards of 3,000 troops, including elite Scout Rangers and marines, in a coordinated series of attacks on Camp Crame and Camp Aquinaldo, Fort Bonifacio, Cavite Naval Base, Villamor Air Base, and on Malacaang itself, which was dive-bombed by vintage T-28 aircraft. Although Aquino was not hurt in this raid, the situation appeared desperate, for not only were military commanders around the country waiting to see which side would triumph in Manila, but the people of Manila, who had poured into the streets to protect Aquino in February 1986, stayed home this time.

Aquino found it necessary to request United States support to put down this uprising. In November-December 1989 US forces moved to evacuate Americans during the coup attempt, and generally protect US interests in the Philippines. During this operation, a large special operations force was formed, USAF fighter aircraft patrolled above rebel air bases, and two aircraft carriers were positioned off the Philippines.

In early December 1989, the USS Enterprise participated in Operation Classic Resolve, President Bush's response to Philippine President Corazon Aquino's request for air support during the rebel coup attempt. Bush approved the use of US F-4 fighter jets stationed at Clark Air Base on Luzon to buzz the rebel planes at their base, fire in front of them if any attempted to take off, and shoot them down if they did. The buzzing by US planes soon caused the coup to collapse. On 02 December 1989 President Bush reported that on 01 December US fighter planes from Clark Air Base in the Philippines had assisted the Aquino government to repel a coup attempt. In addition, 100 marines were sent from the US Navy base at Subic Bay to protect the US Embassy in Manila. Enterprise remained on station conducting flight operations in the waters outside Manila Bay.

Politically this coup was a disaster for Aquino. Her vice president openly allied himself with the coup plotters and called for her to resign. Even Aquino's staunchest supporters saw her need for United States air support as a devastating sign of weakness. Most damaging of all, when the last rebels finally surrendered, they did so in triumph and with a promise from the government that they would be treated "humanely, justly, and fairly." One of the devastating results of this insurrection was that just when the economy had finally seemed to turn around, investors were frightened off, especially since much of the combat took place in the business haven of Makati. Tourism, a major foreign-exchange earner, came to a halt. Business leaders estimated that the mutiny cost the economy US$1.5 billion.



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