THE US PLANS to launch bigger military trainings in the country in 2020. Particularly, it is targeting to double its participants—from 900 this year to 1,700 next year—for the Salaknib training. Salaknib is conducted in preparation for the annual and much bigger Balikatan exercises.
US activities have increased from January to March this year. According to the US Inspector General’s (IG) report regarding the Operation Pacific Eagle-Philippines (OPE-P), the US conducted other military activities in addition to military trainings and ship dockings. This include jet fighter flyovers in Philippine sovereign territory, deployment of a Stryker Brigade to “assist” in AFP military operations, deployment of special forces advisers for the “anti-terrorism” campaign and battle tracking.
As in the previous year, the AFP completely relies on the US for ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaisance). According to the IG report, the AFP “lacks the capacity” to gather and analyze intelligence data on its own. In 2018, the US spent $50 million to fly surveillance drones, and for base maintenance and data analysis.
Similarly, the US conducted 250 military activities in the country. In return, it sold to the AFP obsolete war materiél amounting to $35 billion. During the first quarter of 2019, it sold materiél worth $5.8 million to the AFP.