Logistics: Déjà Vu In The West Pacific


June 10, 2012: Two decades after U.S. forces left their two major bases in the Philippines (Subic Bay port/air base located 100 kilometers northwest of Manila and Clark Air Base located 65 kilometers northwest of Manila), the Americans have been invited to return. Not to use the two facilities as exclusively American bases, as they were for over 70 years, but as needed. Both facilities were largely converted to civilian use after 1991. The Americans left because the Filipinos were asking for a hike in rent the U.S. didn't want to pay. In addition, the Cold War had just ended and there was a big push to shed expensive overseas facilities. Finally, Clark Air Base had recently been heavily damaged by the eruption of a nearby volcano and the U.S. did not want to pay to rebuild a base it didn't need and couldn't afford the rent on.

What is bringing the Americans back is growing Chinese aggression against Filipino efforts to control coastal waters and explore for nearby offshore oil and natural gas. The Chinese Navy has grown much larger in the last two decades and the Philippines can gain more security, and more income, by hosting American warships and aircraft once more.

These two Philippines bases were major links in the supply system that sustained American forces during the Vietnam War (1965-72). Another major logistics base in that conflict was Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam. The Vietnamese have invited the United States to use Cam Ranh Bay once more because Vietnam, like most of China's neighbors, wants Americans close by as protection against growing Chinese aggression.


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