Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Philippines: Increased U.S. Rotational Presence?

Background Briefing:
Philippines: Increased U.S.
Rotational Presence?
Carlyle A. Thayer
August 8, 2013
[client name deleted]
We are preparing a report about plans by the Philippine government to allow a
larger American “rotational” presence in the country to fend off aggressive moves by
China in the South China Sea while Manila modernizes its military. We request your
assessment of the following:
 Will the move be helpful in terms of containing Chinese aggression in the South
China Sea and in what ways?
 How many American military personnel do you think will be rotated under the
new arrangements.
 How will it help America’s Asian pivot plans on the other hand?
ANSWER: China is playing a game of using “asymmetric” approaches to its
sovereignty claims. It is deploying ships rechristened as the new Coast Guard in the
full knowledge that the Philippines Coast Guard is too weak to respond
It is difficult to estimate the numbers of U.S. military personnel likely to be involved
until the Philippines and the U.S. reach agreement on new arrangements. The
numbers are likely to fluctuate. It also depends on the number and types of aircraft
and ships deployed to the Philippines.
China’s “asymmetric approach” means that the U.S. can only escalate matters by
deploying U.S. Navy ships. The U.S. rotational presence is designed to show resolve
and deter China. But it is not an appropriate instrument as long as the PLA Navy
stays out of the way. Beyond that, however, the U.S. needs access to facilities in and
around the South China Sea so it can respond effectively to any crisis, especially
involving the PLA Navy.
Suggested citation: Carlyle A. Thayer, “Philippines: Increased U.S. Rotational
Presence?,” Thayer Consultancy Background Brief, August 8, 2013. All background
briefs are posted on Scribd.com (search for Thayer). To remove yourself from the
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Thayer Consultancy
ABN # 65 648 097 123
Thayer Consultancy provides political analysis of current regional security issues and other research support to selected clients. Thayer Consultancy was officially registered as a small business in Australia in 2002.

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