08-29-107 - THEDIPLOMAT.COM
A new system transferred by Washington highlights its continued focus on enhancing regional maritime security in Southeast Asia.
Last week, the United States formally transferred a new radar system to the Philippines. While the transfer is just the latest in a series of ongoing activities by the two sides that are continuing across the security realm, it also highlights Washington’s continuing efforts to strengthen maritime domain awareness among Southeast Asian states in spite of lingering challenges.
As I have noted before, though the Philippines had long been belittled as one of Asia’s weakest militaries and Washington’s laggard alliance, under the Obama administration it had begun to cement its place not just as a valuable bilateral ally, but as a critical part of wider U.S. Asia policy as a key location for America’s military presence; an exemplar of bilateral and multilateral partnering; and an upholder of international principles (See: “Why the Philippines is Critical to the US Rebalance to Asia”).
To be sure, some of the progress made has slowed and has been complicated by the rise of President Rodrigo Duterte, who is prone to anti-American outbursts and has tried to forge an unconventional “independent foreign policy” seeking to move the Philippines away from its traditional reliance on the United States and towards other major powers like China and Russia (See: “Recalibrating US-Philippine Alliance Under Duterte”). Despite all this, most day-to-day U.S.-Philippine defense cooperation has largely continued on some aspects like maritime security and in fact advanced in others such as counterterrorism, especially following the ongoing Marawi crisis that first erupted in May (See: “Battle for Marawi Exposes Philippines’ Military Intelligence Crisis”). CLICK HERE TO READ FULL ARTICLE