MANILA, Philippines -- “The strategic complexity facing the Indo-Asia-Pacific region is unprecedented, which is why it is so vital our alliance remains strong and resilient in the face of rapid change,” said Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces Commander, during his visit here Dec. 10-13.
O’Shaughnessy, along with Chief Master Sgt. Anthony Johnson, PACAF command chief, visited the country to demonstrate the United States’ shared commitment to peace and security in the region, as well as seek opportunities to enhance interoperability and capacity with the Philippine Air Force and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“Enhanced engagement between our forces benefits the entire region, and is grounded in personal relationships established during visits such as these,” Johnson said. “We’re so much stronger together.”
The U.S.-Philippine alliance dates back more than 60 years, making a trip to historic Corregidor Island a symbolic way to start the general’s first official visit as COMPACAF. Located at the entrance of Manila Bay, Corregidor played an important role in World War II during the invasion and liberation of the Philippines. Heavily bombarded in the latter part of the war, the ruins left on the island serve as a military memorial to American, Filipino and Japanese military members who served or lost their lives in battle.
“To see first hand our shared history, to honor those who came before and shed blood together puts into perspective the things we need to do in the future to ensure a strong shared alliance,” O’Shaughnessy said.
O’Shaughnessy and Johnson met with key defense and military leadership throughout the four-day visit, to include Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Leonardo Guerrero, the new PAF Commanding General Lt Gen Galileo Gerard Kintanar, Command Sergeant Major Chief Master Sergeant Nelson Mercado, as well as members of the U.S. Embassy in Manila.
Additionally, the group visited four air bases - Villamor, Clark, Basa and Mactan - providing the unique opportunity to engage with PAF Airmen at all levels.
Basa and Mactan are among the initial list of five Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) locations. The mutually beneficial agreement is intended to enhance humanitarian assistance response as well as build capacity for the AFP through interoperability, capability development and modernization activities.
At Basa, O’Shaughnessy was briefed on current EDCA proposals and saw four project sites, validating the progress made since the location was selected in March of 2016.
In addition to EDCA, discussions during the visit included opportunities to enhance training, exercises and subject matter expert exchanges, counter terrorism lessons learned, and the importance of upholding the rules-based international order in the South China Sea.
“This visit offered us the opportunity to move beyond just discussions but to get after concrete actions and engagements that will enhance our capabilities in ways that are mutually beneficial to both our Airmen, our air forces and our nations,” O’Shaughnessy said. “The history of our alliance is robust... while the future includes many challenges, we remain committed to facing them together.”