Threats and Psy Ops-A A +A
Monday, August 26, 2013
AFTER the meeting of US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and China’s Defense Minister General Chang Wanquan at Pentagon, Secretary Hagel will tour Southeast Asia to bolster US military ties with regional partners who face increasing concerns over maritime disputes with China.
Hagel announced on Tuesday he will fly to Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines in a week-long visit, with a meeting of Asean defense ministers on August 28 to 29 serving as an anchor for the trip. (Source: AFP News 8/22/2013)
Some observers will take these actions by the US Defense Secretary as something positive when it comes to US-China military-to-military relationship but somewhat ironic when it comes to its military agenda in the Asia-Pacific through its regional partners like the Philippines and Japan.
Both defense chiefs acknowledged that there are a series of disputes around the Asian Pacific region that are likely to continue to be troublesome. Gen. Chang was even quoted saying, "No one should fantasize that China would barter away our core interests and no one should underestimate our will and determination in defending our territory, sovereignty and maritime rights." (Wall street Journal Aug.21, 2013)
In the midst of the country’s brewing discontent on the pork barrel issue, talks on the new "access agreement” has started and will be finalized with the arrival of US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on August 29 and 30.
We have to remember that the US budget cut on military spending has somehow affected its so-called ‘pivot’ to Asia-Pacific and they had to employ another strategy. And this strategy which they adopted from then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is very much in tune with their plans especially in the country. This is called the ‘lily-pad’ basing strategy. It is premised on the idea of reducing US permanent overseas presence in favor of moving small numbers of troops for short-term exercises and Special Operations-type raids. Early last year, Leon Panetta has revived this kind of operation and which much concentration was in the expansion of Special Operations Forces and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones). Both SOF and UAVs are important capabilities, although they should be seen as supplements to, rather than replacements for, conventional forces.
In my past articles, I have already mentioned the use of the SOFs especially in the south and how the drones had similar operations in combating the insurgents there. So what else is new? It is a fact that when it comes to Uncle Sam’s operations, our country is always the testing ground. Sometimes, our own people as guinea pigs when testing vaccines like what I have discussed in my past writings.
By the way, according to the palace spokesman Sec. Edwin Lacierda, this agreement does not need a congressional approval because “the context for the temporary presence of the US forces in the country will be done within the framework of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). There is no need for Senate ratification. However, for purposes of transparency, the panel will be briefing congressional leaders on the status of the negotiations.”
The mere fact that Beijing and Washington are talking ‘regularly’ on how to find peaceful solutions to their problems in many aspects like cyber espionage, freedom in navigation in the South China Sea, trade and finance and the Taiwan issue, US is also playing its cards with its regional partners here, especially the Philippines, for what purpose?
Uncle Sam’s agenda in the region, specifically in our country, has double meaning -- reclaiming its place as a military power in Asia-Pacific and at the same time rebalancing the power of China vis-à-vis with the US.
We have to be wary at all times because once the access agreement is in place, it is more than the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) that we used to have; it is their 'lily-pad base' here. Translation -- full access again to their former military bases. And this time around, they will not spend much because as usual, our leaders will always kowtow to what the master will tell them and will forget altogether what is due us. When are we going to learn?
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on August 27, 2013.