Summary Report on the Complicity of Thailand and the Philippines

The Philippines

The Philippines plays an important role in American strategy because it constitutes the nerve-centre for the American maintenance system in south-east Asia. As early as 1947, through the United States-Philippines military treaties, the US was given for a period of ninety-nine years twenty-three large areas in the Philippines to build military bases. In 1966, the time was shortened to forty-four years.These bases service aircraft and naval craft. Subic Base is the main centre for ships of the 7th Fleet. Exclusive of aircraft carriers, the fleet numbers 175 ships. The importance of the base to the Vietnam war is obvious. But, in addition, Subic is a home port for American atomic submarines. Sangley Point is one of the bases of the 7th Fleet and is of great importance for servicing the submarine fleet of the Pacific.The biggest American facility in the Philippines is Clark Air Force Base, north of Manila. It is an enormous military complex covering 540 square kilometres. Headquarters of the US 13th Air Force is stationed there. It provides for the logistics maintenance of American bases in Thailand. Clark's other main function is to provide a link between the United States and Vietnam. The Sunday Times, on 13 July 1967, noted that `all Air Force personnel on the way to south-east Asia have to pass through Clark Field'. The base also receives wounded, and delivers urgent transports {314} of ammunition and equipment. Clark Field also sustains enormous hospital establishments. The number of patients increased from 2,340 in September 1965 to 4,054 in March 1966 and has probably grown considerably since then. Recently the United States obtained the Mactan Base through an agreement that was signed on 2 June 1967, by President Marcos and the American Ambassador. It is at the disposal of the United States as long as the Vietnam war lasts and `the security' of the two countries so requires.The total number of American forces in the Philippines is about 48,000 men. That bases are of vital importance to the USA is a fact that former Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, expressed before the Senate Committee for Armed Services on 23 January 1967:

As long as the war in Vietnam lasts, the Philippines hold an exceptional strategic position. The bases and the means that are at the disposal of the United States in the Philippines have great importance. On this level the Philippines are very cooperative. Because our military needs in Vietnam are growing, the strategic position and the cooperation of the Philippines is becoming more important to us.
The Philippine government has been represented since 1964 in a symbolic way at the side of the American forces in Vietnam through a `Civil Actions Group'. In 1966 more than 2,000 troops were sent to Vietnam under the command of General Tobias. As a consequence of the opposition this raised in the Philippine Congress and among the public, the troops were presented as only an expansion of the Civil Actions Group.The Philippine government is thus an accessory to the American aggression against Vietnam by giving the United States diplomatic support; by granting air and naval bases of vital importance to American forces in Vietnam on Philippine territory; and by sending troops who directly take part in the fighting. Even if this participation is a result of the neo-colonial pressures that the United States exerts on the Philippines, the Philippine government none the less bears full responsibility for this complicity in the American aggression against Vietnam. {315}


Thailand has become an American fortress in Asia. The military expansion of the United States in Thailand has been taking place parallel with the escalation of the war in Vietnam. As early as 1950, American troops were installed in Thailand, although on a relatively restricted scale. After the founding of SEATO, in which Thailand plays an important role, most of the military manoeuvres of the treaty members were held in Thai territory. In 1962, the US Army's Military Assistance Command, created in Saigon, extended its area of coverage to embrace all of Indochina, the troops in Thailand and the bases at their disposal. During 1963 and 1964, a series of agreements made it possible to further expand the networks of bases. At the time the bombings of North Vietnam began, the United States was able to send aircraft to Thailand to augment those which were already at this early period taking part in the air raids against North Vietnam.In 1965 American forces in Thailand numbered 10,000 men. Now they total about 40,000 men, of which 30,000 are in the air force.Four bases for fighters, bombers and fighter-bombers of the types F-105, F-4C are at Takhli, Korat, Udon, Ubon. Three helicopter bases are at Nakjon-Phanom, Udon, Ubon. Utapao is the base for B-52 strategic bombers and air-to-air tankers. Another B-52 base is being built at Khon Kaen. One naval base, Sattahip, located south-east of Bangkok, was inaugurated on 18 August 1967, and cost $43 million. There is also one Special Forces base at Lop Buri and one centre for transport and military air maintenance at Don Muang, near Bangkok.It is from these bases that most of the bombing raids against Vietnam and Laos depart. American officials, however, did not acknowledge this until 18 January 1967. It was not until 9 March that the Thai authorities also acknowledged this fact. An estimated eighty per cent of the raids against North Vietnam start from the Thailand bases. North Vietnam can be so intensively attacked because the United States does have these bases in Thailand. The bombings in South Vietnam are likewise facilitated because B-52s now come from Utapao rather than Guam. Instead of flying 7,000 kilometres, they now have only to fly 2,000 kilometres. {316} In addition, Thailand takes a part directly in military operations. In September 1967, there were 3,000 Thai troops in South Vietnam. Thailand further receives military aid of $60 million annually from the United States to maintain an army of 80,000 troops.By granting air and naval bases for use by the United States, Thailand made possible the American escalation of the war which has developed since 1965. Thailand is a direct accessory to the crimes that are committed by the American air force in North and South Vietnam, as well as in Laos. Because of the presence of Thai troops in South Vietnam, that country is a direct accessory to the American aggression against Vietnam.

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