Wednesday, March 18, 2009

U.S., Philippines Discuss Way Ahead for 2010 Mutual Defense, Security

Members of the Executive Committee (EXECOM) for the U.S. and Philippine Mutual Defense Board (MDB) and Security Engagement Board (SEB) met Mar. 13 at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii to discuss and forward to the MDB and SEB detailed plans for 2010 engagements, as well as a five-year plan for future large-scale engagements.

These plans will be presented to the board for approval and final signatures by co-chairs, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command and the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The board is scheduled to convene in Hawaii the first week in August.

The MDB was formed in 1958 as a way to enhance the U.S. and Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), which was signed in 1951 and is the oldest treaty the U.S. has with a Pacific nation. As regional threats and military requirements changed, there became a need for the SEB, which addresses non-traditional issues like terrorism and natural disasters.

A recent development to the MDB-SEB process is the identification of specific goals and objectives to increase the ability of the Philippines to participate in coalition operations. This is especially important in assuring military readiness for both countries as stipulated in the MDT.

To address this need, one of the most significant inputs on this year’s meetings calls for an increased focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR), multilateral cooperation, and interagency coordination during training exercises like Balikatan.

The EXECOM also addressed professional enlisted development, an area that is just taking root among most Asia-Pacific militaries, with the Philippines at the forefront.

Once the board approves the plan, it will serve to continue and further enhance the long standing partnership that has been enjoyed by the U.S. and Philippines for more than 50 years.

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