Skip to comments.U.S. Marines Arrive at Philippines Base
Posted on 02/15/2004 8:41:01 AM PST by Tailgunner Joe
U.S. Marines Arrive at Former American Navy Base in Philippines to Take Part in Combat Exercises
SUBIC, Philippines Feb. 15 A contingent of 700 U.S. Marines disembarked Sunday at the site of a former American naval base to take part in combat exercises intended to help the Philippines fight Muslim and communist insurgencies and guard against terror attacks. About 2,500 Marines from the U.S. base in Okinawa, Japan, will take part in live-fire combat maneuvers called "Balikatan," or "shoulder-to-shoulder," from Feb. 23 to March 7. The rest of the American troops are scheduled to arrive within a week.
The Marine contingent docked at Subic Bay, site of a former U.S. naval base about 55 miles northwest of Manila.
The United States began withdrawing from the base in 1991 after the Philippine Senate decided against the allowing continued U.S. operations at Subic Bay and Clark Air Force Base.
The exercises are intended to improve the combat readiness of the United States and the Philippines, two longtime military allies with a 1951 mutual defense treaty. Left-wing groups and Marxist guerrillas have denounced the maneuvers as an infringement on Philippine sovereignty.
A prominent leftist group, the New Militarist Alliance, said the U.S. government is using the exercises to project its power in Asia.
American and Philippine troops will stage a beach-landing exercise off mountainous Aurora province north of Manila, near strongholds of the communist New People's Army, which has been waging a 35-year Marxist rebellion and is on a U.S. list of terrorist groups.
The guerrillas suspect the exercises are a cover for a U.S.-backed counterinsurgency, spying or other operations and have warned that Americans would be attacked if they enter rebel zones.
A Marine spokesman, Capt. Burrel Parmer, dismissed the allegations.
"We're not here to engage in any type of operations against any type of forces or organizations in the Philippines," he told The Associated Press.