Locklear Shores Up Ties in Philippines

Adm. Samuel Locklear, head of US Pacific Command, reaffirmed the United States’ long-standing commitment to the Philippines in meetings with Philippine President Benigno Aquino and other top Filipino government officials on July 16, reported The Philippine Star. Locklear arrived in the Philippines, a US treaty ally, on July 15 on his first official visit there since taking PACOM’s helm in March. His visit, meant for discussions on regional security issues and maritime security concerns, concludes on July 17. According to the newspaper, Locklear’s delegation also reiterated US willingness to help the Philippines establish “a minimum credible defense.” The Filipinos seeks US assistance in transforming their armed forces from an army-centric focus on internal security to the capacity to address external threats and enjoy greater interoperability with US forces. The Philippines is at odds with China over a territorial dispute that flared in April in the Scarborough Shoal area of the South China Sea. (See also AFPS report by Donna Miles.)