US Eyes Increased Rotational Presence in Philippines

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and his Philippine counterpart Voltaire Gazmin discussed deepening bilateral defense cooperation, including increasing the rotational presence of US forces in the Philippines. The increased rotational presence would consist primarily of air and naval assets, with some ground force involvement in training exercises with Philippine forces, according to a June 1 Pentagon release. This presence would augment “an already robust US force operating in and out of the Philippines,” said a US defense official. “We hope to have progress by the end of the year” on this proposal, said the official, noting that the two nations would be working on it in the coming months. Hagel and Gazmin met on June 1 during the Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore. While there, Hagel invited the defense ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which includes the Philippines, to meet next year in Hawaii. “I believe this first-ever US-hosted meeting of ASEAN defense ministers will provide another opportunity . . . to discuss a shared vision for a dynamic, peaceful, and secure future for the region,” said Hagel during a June 1 speech. (Hagel transcript) (AFPS report by Karen Parrish)