Pentagon Unveils 4 New Military Bases in Philippines for Joint Training

Samantha Flom
By Samantha Flom
April 4, 2023US News

The Department of Defense will open four new strategic military sites in the Philippines to enhance the U.S. military’s readiness and responsiveness in the region as China’s aggression, posturing, and military buildup in the region continues.

The new locations mark an expansion of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the two countries, which allows U.S. access to Philippine military bases for joint training initiatives and prepositioning of equipment.

The four new sites will include Naval Base Camilo Osias in Santa Ana, Cagayan; Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela; Balabac Island in Palawan; and Lal-lo Airport in Cagayan.

Locations already included under the agreement include Cesar Basa Air Base in Pampanga, Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation, Lumbia Air Base, Antonio Bautista Air Base, and Mactan Benito Ebuen Air Base.

“In addition to the five existing sites, these new locations will strengthen the interoperability of the United States and Philippine armed forces and allow us to respond more seamlessly together to address a range of shared challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, including natural and humanitarian disasters,” Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said at an April 3 press briefing.

The locations of the new sites are strategic in that Isabela and Cagayan face north, towards Taiwan, and Palawan is situated near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, where China’s ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has built artificial islands with missile systems and military runways.

“The expansion of EDCA just makes our training with the Philippines more resilient,” Singh said. “It is about creating regional readiness, but also being able to respond to any type of disaster or any type of humanitarian disaster that could arise in the region.”

The office of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. echoed those remarks on Monday, holding that the expansion would “boost the disaster response” and humanitarian efforts of the United States, while also protecting the east coast of the country.

Meanwhile, Philippine Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. called the sites “very strategic,” emphasizing that his country had a responsibility to the international community to defend the South China Sea.

“That’s a trade route … where more or less $3 trillion trade passes [annually],” he said.

The two countries first announced the planned expansion in a joint statement on Feb. 1, holding that the enhanced cooperation would make for a “stronger and more resilient” alliance and would “accelerate modernization of our combined military capabilities.”

On Monday, the Defense Department vowed to work in “lockstep” with the Philippine Department of National Defense and Armed Forces to achieve that modernization, in part by allocating additional funds for infrastructure at the new sites.

To date, the United States has spent more than $82 million on infrastructure at the five existing EDCA sites.

“The United States is committed to ensuring its activities around EDCA sites are responsive to the needs and priorities of local communities, and we will continue to consult closely with the Philippines on new opportunities that serve our shared interests,” the department said in a statement.

“The United States and the Philippines have stood shoulder-to-shoulder as friends and allies for more than seven decades, unwavering in our treaty commitments and our shared vision for a more peaceful, secure, and prosperous region,” the department continued.

“The strides we are making to expand the EDCA and modernize the alliance will ensure this vision endures far into the future.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times


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