(WASHINGTON) — A senior Marine official expects the U.S. Marine presence in the Philippines to grow over the coming days, though he didn’t have a specific number. Another official says additional aircraft should be arriving soon, days after Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the country.
According to the senior official, if the Philippine government asks for them, the Marines are ready to send three amphibious ships based in Japan to help out. But that request hasn’t come, so the Pentagon hasn’t ordered the ships to get ready and depart their homeport in Sasebo, Japan. If the USS Denver, USS Germantown and USS Ashland were ordered to move, it would take two days for them to be loaded with Marines and gear and then another three to four days to arrive off the coast of the Philippines.
The official says that on Sunday, the Marine general heading the U.S. relief effort in the Philippines requested the amphibious ships to help out, but instead the Pentagon sent the carrier strike group with the USS George Washington which was on a port visit to Hong Kong. That decision was apparently made by the Joint Staff because the carrier strike group was closer to the Philippines.
The ships can carry amphibious tracked vehicles and hovercraft carriers, but they would also bring a water-generating capability.
The three ships are smaller amphibious ships than the large-deck amphibious ships that effectively serve as landing decks for helicopters and Ospreys.
The official expects the U.S. Marine presence in the Philippines, but said the size of the force will probably depend on assessments over time.
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