The US and the Philippines announced plans on Thursday to increase America’s military presence in the Southeast Asian country, with access to four more bases, in order to deter China’s increasingly aggressive actions toward Taiwan and in the disputed South China Sea.
The agreement was reached while US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was visiting the country to discuss the deployment of US forces and weapons in additional Philippine military camps.
The Philippines and the United States announced jointly that they had decided to accelerate the full implementation of their Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which aims to support combined training, exercises, and interoperability.
As part of the agreement, the US will invest $82 million in infrastructure improvements at five existing EDCA sites and expand its military presence to four new sites in “strategic areas of the country,” according to a statement.
Austin arrived in the Philippines on Tuesday from South Korea, where he stated that the US would increase its deployment of advanced weapons such as fighter jets and bombers to the Korean Peninsula in response to North Korea’s growing nuclear threat.
In the Philippines, Washington’s oldest treaty ally in Asia and a key front in the US fight against terrorism, Austin met with Filipino generals and a small contingent of US counterterrorism forces stationed at a local military camp, according to regional Philippine military commander Lt Gen Roy Galido.