MANILA, Philippines -- U.S. Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) Commander Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., traveled to the Philippines May 15 to 17 to meet with senior officials from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine Air Force (PAF).
“Our relationship with the Philippines is one of our most enduring relationships in the Indo-Pacific region,” Brown said. “It’s an honor to be here to be part of the friendship and cooperation between our two nations and our two air forces.”
Brown, 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 capability with the PAF.
“Enhanced engagement between our people and our forces benefits the entire region, and is grounded in personal relationships established during visits such as these,” said Brown.
As part of the three-day visit, Brown met with AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, Jr., PAF Commanding General Lt. Gen. Rozzano Briguez, as well as U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim and members of the U.S. Embassy.
“The AFP looks forward to exploring more avenues for better military enhancement and capability development with Pacific Air Forces that are anchored on global peace and security,” Madrigal said. “This is in line with our longstanding and strong mutual defense alliance with the U.S. Armed Forces.”
Johnson also met with AFP Sergeant Major First Chief Master Sgt. Lito Tompayogan and PAF Command Sergeant Major Chief Master Sgt. Nelson Mercado.
While in Manila, Brown and Johnson also met with a number of PAF officers who have studied and graduated from U.S. military professional military education programs, from the U.S. Air Force Academy to Air War College and in between, a true demonstration of the long-standing alliance between the air forces.
“The dialogue we are having today, that our Airmen have had at all levels, that our joint partners continue to have, serves as the foundation for our vision for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” Brown said.
At Villamor Air Base, Brown participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Monument of the Fallen Airmen and discussed the PAF Flight Plan 2028.
“I commend the vision laid out by the PAF in their flight plan,” Brown said. “We have the same vision of peace, security and friendship not just for today, but tomorrow and the future ahead.”
In addition to the flight plan, discussions during the visit included opportunities to enhance training, exercises and subject matter expert exchanges, air domain awareness, fighter capability, opportunities for trilateral operations, command and control, humanitarian aid and disaster response, and the importance of upholding the rules-based international order.
“We are delighted at the possibility of expanding joint trainings and exercises with the PACAF as well as Subject Matter Expert or Personnel Exchanges to not only introduce new capabilities and improve existing ones within the PAF but to also be exposed to the best practices you employ in your operations thereby learning and eventually translating these lessons and best practices in the PAF context,” Briguez said.
The group also visited Basa, Clark and Basilio Fernando air bases, providing the unique opportunity to engage with PAF Airmen at all levels.
Briguez described Basa as a tangible representation of the PAF Flight Plan. The visit offered Brown the opportunity to see the plan in action, the progress on various Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement projects, the newly built FA-50 simulator, as well as to meet with leadership and Airmen from the 5th Fighter Wing and 580th Air Control and Warning Wings, and Air Defense Command Commander Maj. Gen. Gerald Da-Anton.
At Clark, Brown met with Air Logistics Command Commander Maj. Gen. Allen T. Paredes, as well as had the unique opportunity to visit the former location of 13th Air Force headquarters.
At Basilio Fernando Air Base, Johnson met with Air Education, Training and Doctrine Command Sergeant Major Ruperto Rodel Moreto and toured PAF facilities which included Basic Military Training, Non-Commissioned Officer School, Technical and Specialization Training and airmen dormitories.
The visit builds upon a number of frequent engagements between the two nations each year.
“We have about 60 military-to-military engagements that occur throughout the course of a year,” Brown said, adding that the United States and Philippines agreed to conduct a total of 281 engagements in 2019 across Indo-Pacific Command, an increase of 30 from the previous year.
Major highlights in 2019 include Bilateral Air Contingent-Philippines, Airman-to-Airman Talks (A2AT) and Balikatan.
This year’s BACE-P, held in January, was the seventh iteration and incorporated fighter aircraft for the first time at Basa, allowing not only unique opportunities for exchanges between aircrews, but also maintenance Airmen as well.
In February, PACAF hosted the PAF at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, for the seventh iteration of A2AT, with a focus on building a multiyear plan for engagement and cooperation.
Balikatan, which executed in April, comprised of 28 major combined or joint interoperability events focused on counterterrorism, amphibious operations, live-fire, urban operations and aviation operations. This was the first iteration to incorporate the USS Wasp paired with the U.S. Marine Corps’ F-35B Lightning II aircraft, alongside PACAF A-10s and HH-60s.
Brown recently invited the PAF to participate in the upcoming PACAF-hosted Pacific Air Chiefs Symposium in December. The Philippines was among 18 nations represented at the inaugural symposium in 2017, the largest gathering of air chiefs to date, representing 700,000 airmen across the region.
“Airmen of Pacific Air Forces are very proud to work with the Philippines air force,” Brown said.
This was Brown’s first trip to the Philippines since taking command of PACAF, the air component command of Indo-Pacific Command. His last time in country was 31 years ago as a young pilot participating in exercise Cope Thunder.