You can help their forces train with Foreign Military Financing, but it takes two years or so to get something going, and who gets what is really decided by the State Department. Senior Pentagon officials want to be able to act more quickly for the simple reason that China has greatly increased the tempo of its activities in the region and is acting much more aggressively.
So the Senate Armed Services Committee is proposing in its version of the annual defense policy bill that the Pentagon have $50 million this year and rising to $100 million over the next five years to provide to five of our partners and allies, with an eye especially on the Philippines.
The plan met with strong approval from one of the top experts on China’s provocative actions in the region. But Mira Rapp-Hooper at the Center for Strategic and International Studies notes it will take years for the effort to really gain momentum.
“With tensions running high in the South China Sea and US policymakers looking for options, the proposed South East Asia Assurance fund has an important role to play. The administration has emphasized partner capacity building as a tenet of the rebalance, and the SASC proposal would significantly increase assistance and training,” Rapp-Hooper writes in an email.