U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett met Wednesday with top defense officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Manila to reaffirm military partnership with the country, its oldest treaty ally in Asia.
Barrett met with Department of National Defense (DND) USec. Cardozo Luna, AFP Chief of Staff General Gilbert Gapay, and Philippine Air Force (PAF) Lt. General Allen Paredes to underline the importance of the alliance of the United States and the Philippines to national and regional security and discussed opportunities for bilateral security cooperation.
Barrett also touched on U.S. COVID-19-related assistance and disaster relief for recent typhoon victims, as well as ongoing U.S. support for Philippine counterterrorism and maritime security efforts.
“From joint counterterrorism efforts to humanitarian support, the U.S. and Philippines have a long history of working together to protect global security through regional stability,” Barrett said in a press statement released by the U.S. Embassy Wednesday.
“The U.S. Air and Space Forces look forward to building on our strong relationship with the Philippine military through greater interoperability and training opportunities with the Philippine Air Force, as well as exploring where our nations can cooperate in the space domain,” she added.
Luna welcomed Barrett’s visit saying the AFP looks forward to working with its U.S. counterparts in seeking shared intentions and concerns.
“We welcome the visit of Secretary Barrett, and we look forward to working with our U.S. counterparts in pursuit of our common goals and interests,” said Luna in the same statement.
“With our shared history and long-standing partnership with the U.S., we also look forward to continuing our cooperation on various aspects of defense and security, including the Philippines’ current thrust to modernize its Armed Forces,” DND assistant secretary for Logistics, Acquisitions, and Self-Reliant Defense Posture Jesus Rey Avilla added.
Barrett’s visit coincided with the handover to the Philippine Navy (PN) of a ScanEagle Unmanned Aerial System, a P710 million ($14.79 million) drone that will boost military intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, strengthening maritime domain awareness and border security.
Her trip follows U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien’s November 22-23 visit, during which he announced P868 million ($18 million) in additional military equipment and training for the AFP, as well as an additional P169 million ($3.5 million) in U.S. humanitarian assistance to typhoon-affected communities.
The Philippines is by far the largest recipient of U.S. military assistance in the Indo-Pacific region. Since 2015, the United States has delivered more than Php33 billion ($650 million) worth of planes, ships, armored vehicles, small arms, and other military equipment to the Philippines, while training side-by-side with our Filipino allies.