Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. V,    No. 3      February 20-26, 2005      Quezon City, Philippines











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Shift of U.S. Forces from Okinawa to Philippines Seen

The Macapagal-Arroyo government is reportedly deeply involved in defense talks with U.S. and Japanese defense officials that would pave the way for the transfer of U.S. forces from Okinawa to the Philippines for a long-term stay and the increased role of Japanese security forces in Asia Pacific and elsewhere.

By Bulatlat

The Macapagal-Arroyo government is reportedly deeply involved in defense talks with U.S. and Japanese defense officials that would pave the way for the longer stay of American troops in the Philippines and the increased role of Japanese security forces in Asia Pacific and elsewhere.

U.S. Marines arrive
in Cavite for the Balikatan military exercises

Bulatlat sources from Tokyo and recent reports by Japanese newspapers last week revealed that Philippine defense officials met their Japanese counterparts in Tokyo Feb. 9. The meeting dealt with the possible transfer of U.S. forces now currently stationed in Okinawa to the Philippines.

A source from the Asia-Wide Campaign, a network of anti-bases progressives in Asia Pacific based in Tokyo, also disclosed a project to build a permanent military training center in Central Luzon for U.S. forces. The same source cited an interview by an Okinawan journalist with House Speaker Jose de Venecia and former Defense Secretary and now Interior and Local Government Secretary Angelo Reyes who both welcomed the stay of U.S. Marines from Okinawa for the Balikatan exercises – but not to host U.S. military bases.

The reports came on the heels of what appear to be deeper involvement of U.S. military troops in the Philippines. Over the weekend, about 40 U.S. special forces were reported to be engaged in planning combat operations against guerrillas of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Jolo, southern Philippines. Fierce fighting erupted between MNLF and government forces more than a week ago with several combatants on both sides, including two Army officers, killed and about 30,000 civilians evacuated.

Balikatan exercises

A new Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder) war exercises between Philippine and U.S. troops are set on Feb. 21 – March 6 this year. Last December, post-typhoon disaster operations in Quezon and Aurora provinces also saw the entry of hundreds of U.S. solders supposedly for humanitarian reasons.

Hundreds of U.S. troops have also been allowed to stay longer particularly in Mindanao where Balikatan training exercises are regularly held.

Washington talks

A consultative meeting between U.S. and Japanese defense and foreign officials began Feb. 19 in Washington to negotiate for a new security arrangement that aims to deploy Japan’s Self-Defense Force (SDF) for new assignments in Iraq and other flashpoints throughout the world. The new security pact is supposedly integrated to the new U.S. basing strategy that Pentagon unveiled in August last year.

The new basing strategy seeks to transfer U.S. forces from Okinawa, South Korea and other host countries for U.S. military bases to make them more mobile and near “security hotspots” and anti-terrorist operations. But the new strategy also envisions the building of new and larger U.S. military installations in the Middle East, Latin America and Africa.

The continuing U.S. military presence in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and other countries is reportedly being re-tooled to make U.S. forces jointly with Washington’s allies more capable of containing China as an emerging power in the region as well as to counter North Korea’s “nuclear threats.”

Reports in Japan said the ongoing Washington talks will approve a “U.S.-Japan common strategic goal” which declares to launch U.S.-Japan joint military maneuvers on the global scale, not only in areas surrounding Japan, to jointly counter the “new threats in the world.” Bulatlat

Related articles

Defense policy overhauled to meet new global threats
Review cites danger posed by North Korea, China

Review now under way on U.S. defense cooperation



© 2004 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

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