The topic of my column today is not, as far as I know, a secret. It is, though, something that is not widely known. If I thought that it was something that was being kept secret, I would think it over very seriously before writing about it.
As far as you know, are there any US Military bases in the Philippines? I know, all the bases were closed a decade and a half ago, in 1992, right? Well, yes and no. Yes, the USA closed it’s Military bases in the Philippines in 1992. The two big bases at the time were Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Base. There were other smaller bases too, but all of these were closed in 1992 when a nationalist movement in the Philippines forced these bases off Philippine soil. Oh yes, it was all done with a very diplomatic tone, but it really was a forced issue in the background. Why do I also say NO, when asking if all the bases were closed, though? Well, yes, these long time bases were indeed closed, but I didn’t ask if additional bases have been established since that closure.
Almost everybody would say that there are no bases in the Philippines any longer. Technically, that is correct. But, in practice, what they have here now are called CSL’s, or Cooperative Security Locations. The “Worker’s World” has an article on their website about CSL’s in the Philippines. Normally, I don’t put much stock into sources like Worker’s World, it just sounds like some kind of hyper-left leaning organization. The name even brings back memories of communist days of the cold war. That being said, though, the article in question talks about several things that I know to be true, and thus it gives me a little higher opinion on the veracity of the entire article. While I already knew a lot of what is written, there are some new things that I did not know.
Without a doubt in my mind, I can say that the US has a CSL in Zamboanga City. I have been there, and I know a little about the operations there. I have gone on a number of Medical Missions and other such events with US Special Forces who operate out of Zamboanga City. The fact of this place is widely known in the Philippines, yet I don’t believe that many Americans know that such a place exists.
According to Workers World 30,000 to 50,000 US troops are stationed in the Philippines currently, and in constant operation. When I read this, I was shocked. I thought that maybe a maximum of 5,000 US Troops were here in the Philippines at any given time. I would be shocked if these figures were confirmed in any way, because that just seems very high to me. What I do know is that the bulk of US commitments in the Philippines are in Mindanao, where I live, and there are frequent incidents when US Personnel get into hot water around the area for one reason or another. That being said, in general, I am supportive of US forces being here, although I do hope that they follow local customs to the extent that they can, and not be a bad influence with the local people.
Did you know that there was such a large number of US personnel on the ground here? What do you think of it?