US, Philippines top military officials meet in Hawaii

Commander of United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) Admiral Harry Harris Jr. and Chief-of-Staff of the Armed Forces Philippines (AFP) General Hernando Iriberri led the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board meeting at Oahu in Hawaii October 19. The meeting was held to program activities for next year that will sustain strong alliance.

Mutual Defense Board and the Security Engagement Board meetings have been held annually since 1958. The goal is to bring together key military and government personnel to discuss US and Philippine activities for the upcoming year. Balikatan and other military interactions are topics for the Mutual Defense Board. The Security Engagement Board on the other hand discusses plans for the two nations to work together in humanitarian assistance, disaster response, counter-terrorism and counter-trafficking.

At the end of Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board meeting, Iriberri and Harris as co-chairs, endorsed the upcoming bilateral activities for next year. USPACOM said they “signed the activities agreement, shook hands, and thanked the many men and women from both the US and Philippines Armed Forces and government representatives. Their hard work and dedication ensured another year of exercises, training and engagements that continue to strengthen both nations.”

“Prepared to face any threat together, the two nation’s interoperability simply can’t be duplicated. An example of an activity discussed each year is the annual exercise Balikatan,” USPACOM said. “The talks are crucial in ensuring the US, Philippine alliance is one of the strongest military partnerships in the region surrounding the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).”