PUERTO PRINCESA, Philippines –
Senior leaders from U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, and the Philippine Marine Corps held their annual Marine-to-Marine Staff Talks here from Feb. 8-10, 2023.
The annual Marine-to-Marine Staff Talks are a key component of the U.S.-Philippine defense relationship. They serve as a forum for senior military leaders to exchange views on regional security issues and enhance bilateral cooperation. The discussions from this week further reinforce the strong and enduring bond between both nations and their commitment to regional stability and security.
“[We’re] moving in a direction that is definitely going to improve our operational capabilities – individually, collectively, and in an integrated way,” said Lt. Gen. William M. Jurney, commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific. “That progress is made during major events like Balikatan, Marine Exercises, and KAMANDAG, as well as all the many high quality, high impact activities that bring us together as regional partners.”
The annual event emphasized the significance of the U.S.-Philippine military relationship and provided an opportunity to collaborate on common interests. During the three-day meeting, leaders from both militaries discussed a variety of topics including recent experiences with amphibious operations, methods of modernizing training, and advancing capabilities to remain ready and responsive in the Indo-Pacific region.
This year’s iteration focused heavily on the development of the Republic of the Philippines-U.S. Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board cycle and evaluation of the 5-year integrated readiness and deterrence plan. The MDB-SEB cycle enhances defense cooperation between the two countries, while the 5-year plan aims to improve the readiness and capability of the Philippine Marine Corps. This process helped compile a list of events for 2024 that will serve as a foundation for the rest of the MDB-SEB cycle.
Representatives participating in the PMC-MARFORPAC Staff Talks discussed future exercises meant to strengthen interoperability between the two services. Militaries from both countries regularly participate in a variety of activities and exercises, such as Balikatan and KAMANDAG, to mutually develop their defense capabilities while aligning to common goals shared between both nations.
“The changing security landscape of the Indo-Pacific… [requires] more collaboration between MARFORPAC and the PMC,” said Maj. Gen. Charlton Sean M. Gaerlan, Commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps, during the closing ceremony. Gaerlan continued to emphasize the need for more “capability development” through future training and exercises to ensure both nations’ forces can respond effectively to security challenges.
The U.S. and the Philippines have a long-standing diplomatic relationship dating back to 1951, with the signing of the Mutual Defense Treaty, which serves as the foundation for close security cooperation. More than seventy years later, the two nations continue to work closely together towards common goals based on shared values and interests in the region.