Docking of warship part of US’s plan for Asia missile defense system

Steven Hildreth, a missile-defense expert with the Congressional Research Service, an advisory arm of US Congress, was quoted as saying that the U.S. is “laying the foundations” for a region-wide missile defense system that would combine U.S. ballistic missile defenses with those of regional powers, particularly Japan, South Korea and Australia.


MANILA – As the United States “pivots” a bigger part of its overseas armed presence toward the Asia-Pacific region, patriotic Filipinos are alarmed by the increasingly more frequent dockings and visits in the country of likely nuke-armed American warships, submarines and airplanes. Unfortunately, based on plans of US defense officials, these are just some of the many aspects of increased US power projection coming this country’s way.

This week, a missile destroyer – the first of its kind to dock here – arrived in Manila. The Philippine Navy said it is just for a four-day “replenishment,” but progressive groups opposed to US government’s use of the Philippines as an unofficial military base refuse to belittle such dockings.

The 505-foot vessel USS Milius (DDG 69), a guided missile destroyer, docked at the South Harbor in Manila Aug 19. The Philippine Navy spokesman, Col. Omar Tonsay, told the media, a day before, that the docking is not an official visit. He said the missile destroyer will stay at the port from August 18 to 21. On Aug 23, in its official Facebook page, USS Milius posted a photo of the missile destroyer showing it “moored in Manila, Philippines with up and over flags flying and a barge tied up outboard.”

Its crew welcomed what they call as their “liberty” in the Philippines.

Milius has been deployed to the Pacific Ocean since January this year. At the time it left the US for this deployment, its skipper, Cmdr. Nikki Bufkin, reportedly said the destroyer “expects to conduct maritime security and ballistic missile defense operations during the deployment.” Their last deployment was in 2010, guarding an Iraqi oil terminal.

“As a multi-mission AEGIS (ballistic missile defense system) destroyer, Milius is prepared to execute a full range of missions in support of U.S., partner and coalition objectives,” Bufkin said.

Ahead of Milius, two other US nuke-powered submarines visited Subic, Zambales, former site of the largest US naval base outside the mainland. A large ship-building and repair facility here reportedly has contract with the US military to condition or repair US warships.

Not just for replenishment

The revolutionary Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) cautioned the Filipinos against being “desensitized” by this regular and increasingly frequent dockings of US military warships and submarines, as well as by the constant presence of American troops and intelligence agents who operate with the Philippine government and military around the country.

“The Filipino people must not let down their patriotic vigilance for even one moment,” the CPP said in a statement.

The US Embassy in Manila has praised the missile destroyer’s visit, saying it “highlights the strong historic, community and military connections between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines.”

But that “connection,” in fact, is what the patriotic Filipinos are condemning as “puppetry and servility of the Philippine reactionary state,” currently led by President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. Why the Aquino government has been allowing the US government “to use the Philippines as a platform for its interventionism in the Asia-Pacific region” defies and “stains” the memory of Filipino heroes such as Apolinario Mabini and the Katipuneros, the CPP said.

Mabini and the Katipuneros whose heroism are enshrined in holidays such as National Heroes Day, had fought for national independence and an independent and peace-loving foreign policy. This is the opposite of what the Aquino regime has been pursuing.

The Aquino regime has announced its wholehearted embrace of the US government’s effort to build a network of military outposts in the Asia-Pacific region, from Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam. Aquino government officials have announced early this year that they “invited” the US government and military to use the Philippines in service of the fleet of US warships under the US Pacific Command.

“The docking of the USS Milius further reinforces US control over the Philippines as a military stronghold in its effort to secure its economic and political interests in the region, especially the sea lanes from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific to ensure the flow of US products to the vast Asian market,” said the CPP.

Philippines in US plans to build new Asia missile ‘defense’

Aside from being increasingly used as transit points for refueling and repairs of US military warships and warplanes, as well as in serving as venues for increased US troops’ “rotational” deployment, the Philippines is also being eyed to host important US military facilities.

In a report from the Wall Street Journal yesterday, it was disclosed that the U.S. is planning a major expansion of missile defenses in Asia, a move American officials say is designed to contain threats from North Korea, but one that could also be used to counter China’s military.

US defense officials are quoted as saying that “a centerpiece” of its new missile ‘defense’ would be the deployment of a powerful early-warning radar, known as an X-Band, in an undisclosed southern Japanese island and in the Philippines.

These two new radars are to be installed to supplement the first one already installed in Aomori Prefecture in northern Japan in 2006. Reports said the US and Japanese officials only disclosed that the radar would be “somewhere in Japan,” but not in southern Okinawa where residents have long chafed at the presence of the US troops.

Some U.S. defense officials have reportedly focused on the Philippines as the potential site for the third X-Band, which is manufactured by Raytheon Co. According to Pentagon officials, a location has yet to be determined and the discussions are still at an early stage.

Recall that when President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III went on a state visit to US last June, and in the high-level talks held by his defense officials with American defense and security officials, they have agreed to build in the country a US-funded and US-equipped “National Coast Watch Center” that would include a powerful radar, purportedly to help the Philippines watch over its coastlines 24/7.

It was presented like a US “support” to an ally who is trying to build a “minimum credible defense posture” particularly against China. But between the Philippines and the US, it is the US who has been more wary of what its defense planners call as “the elephant in the room, which is China.”

In fear of possible Chinese threats to US Navy fleet, crucial to US power projection in the Asia-Pacific, US defense planners are now intending to install two more X-Band radars to create an arc that would allow the U.S. and its regional allies to more accurately track, and launch, too, ballistic missiles against North Korea and China.

Steven Hildreth, a missile-defense expert with the Congressional Research Service, an advisory arm of US Congress, was quoted as saying that the U.S. is “laying the foundations” for a region-wide missile defense system that would combine U.S. ballistic missile defenses with those of regional powers, particularly Japan, South Korea and Australia.

The radar could be installed within months of Japan’s agreement, American officials reportedly said. As for the Philippines, no details have yet been disclosed. But the CPP warned Filipinos especially the patriotic among them to be on guard, considering that “Under the Aquino regime, the puppetry and servility of the Philippine reactionary state has reached its highest levels in recent times.” (

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