215. Report by the National Security Council’s Under Secretaries Committee Review of U.S. Bases and Facilities in the Philippines1

[Omitted here is the table of contents.]


This study was undertaken as a result of the memorandum from Dr. Kissinger to the Under Secretary of State dated October 30 [20]2, 1969, on the subject of “Revisions of the US Military Bases Agreement with the Philippines.” The memorandum indicated that the President had directed a review of our treaty and other relationships with the Philippines with the objective of:

  • —putting the Philippines on a most-favored-nation basis,
  • —examining the total physical area in the Philippines controlled by the US Forces and the number of bases for comparison with the US Forces holdings in other countries. Consideration should be given to the release of land in the Philippines which may be surplus to military needs.

The study sets forth objectives and outlines policy assumptions and guidance on which the effort is based. In addition, the Philippine pressures in the last five years, as related to the number and size of US bases, are discussed in detail. A section of the study is devoted to the size of the US bases in the Philippines and in several other countries. Country population, land areas and civilian population densities are compared to the same statistics of the US Forces in the various countries. Pertinent information of all the US bases and properties in the Philippines is provided and the need for the properties is discussed. The JOBAR study conclusions relating to the closure of Sangley Point, the JCS position concerning the study results and the present status of JOBAR recommendations are discussed briefly.

The Study conclusions are as follows:

Although the total land area of US bases in the Philippines is large in comparison to that in other foreign countries, a comparison of [Page 456]the various population densities does not indicate that the US controls a disproportionate share of land in the Philippines.
The two Navy VP squadrons, based on Sangley Point, are involved primarily in Vietnam-related missions. It is envisioned that this ASW force will be reduced to one squadron in the post-Vietnam era. As US combat forces are reduced in SEA, it may be desirable to relocate those naval aviation units and support activities now located at Sangley. The JOBAR Study addresses the issue of closure of Sangley in the present time frame. In late January 1970, however, DepSecDef elected against a unilateral decision to close Sangley Point now. This was due, in part, to the utility of the station as a bargaining point in our MBA negotiations.
From a review of Clark Air Base holdings, it is considered that the Air Force could relinquish a portion of Zone D acreage without adversely impacting on base expansion requirements, security, or integrity. However, it is believed that this acreage should be released only if the GOP presses for a reduction in the size of the Clark holdings.
Due to its topography, approximately one-half the land in the Subic Bay area is unimproved and is retained primarily for security reasons and to protect the watershed of the area. A portion of this land could be relinquished without adversely affecting the mission of the base provided there is an adequate land use survey.
John Hay Air Base serves as an important low-cost recreational area for all US armed forces personnel in the Philippines. The annual savings that would accrue from closing the base is small in comparison to its value in increased morale and productivity of the personnel. It should be retained unless GOP insists upon its return.
Land holdings in the minor US facilities are not considered in excess of requirements and are not identified for release.
The GOP has failed to live up to guarantees for watershed preservation in some cases involving release of US-controlled land in the past. Any actions involving future release of base lands should be completed only after adequate measures are taken by GOP to ensure protection of watershed areas essential to the bases.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 556, Country Files, Far East, Philippines, Vol. II. Secret; Noforn. This 36-page study (plus four map drawings) was designated NSCU/N 18, Annex C, and was forwarded to the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, the Director of Central Intelligence, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under an April 6 cover letter, by Arthur A. Hartman, Staff Director of the Under Secretaries Committee.
  2. Document 195.