Clinton Visits USS Fitzgerald in Manila
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2011 Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited the crew of the USS Fitzgerald in Manila today as she commemorated the 60th anniversary of the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.
Clinton noted the vastly different world the two countries faced when the treaty was signed in 1951. Their soldiers had fought together in World War II, and the two countries again were united against the spread of communism.
“This treaty was a testament that we stood united against the challenges of a dangerous world,” Clinton said. “Our hope was that we could pursue the peace together. And that common devotion to peace has sustained our alliance through the years.”
Over the past six decades, the treaty “has provided for our common defense and helped to create cooperation between our two countries,” she said, “not only military cooperation, but also political and economic, and not only between governments, but most importantly, between our people.”
Clinton emphasized the need for the treaty to stand up to current threats such as weapons proliferation and terrorism.
The United States and its Philippine allies are evaluating ways to update the alliance – like other alliances in the region -- to ensure they are “nimble, adaptive [and] flexible” to “deliver results in this new world,” she said.
Clinton underscored the need as part of that effort for the treaty to provide the collective defense capabilities and communications infrastructure capable of deterring provocation from a full spectrum of state, as well as nonstate, actors.
She noted, for example, the need to support the Philippines in the maritime domain as it improves its territorial and interdiction capabilities. In August, the United States transferred a Coast Guard cutter to the Philippines and is considering transferring a second one, she said.
“We must ensure that this alliance remains strong, capable of delivering results for the people of the Philippines, the United States and our neighbors throughout the Asia-Pacific [region],” Clinton said.
The secretary paid tribute to the Fitzgerald crew as an example of the close relationship between the two countries’ militaries.
The Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer transited with the Philippine navy’s new flagship, Gregorio del Pilar, during its maiden voyage across the Pacific this summer, she noted. Over the course of 16 days, the crews trained together in emergency response and onboard medical procedures.
“By the end of the exercises, the officers and crews onboard both vessels achieved new levels of proficiency and partnership,” Clinton said.
“That is just one example of the work we do every day together, not only between our militaries and our governments, our diplomatic corps, but between our businesses, our universities and our citizens,” she said. “As always, the foundation of what we do is really based on the ties connecting our peoples.”
Clinton called it an honor to meet the Fitzgerald crew and thank them on behalf of the American people.
“You protect us faithfully and courageously, often from faraway cities or remote corners of the ocean,” she said. “And it’s been a great honor of my life to be able to work with you to ensure that you’re given the support and the treatment you deserve from a grateful nation.”