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NEWS | May 15, 2024

Enhancing communication capabilities with the Philippine Air Force

By Master Sgt. Darnell T. Cannady, 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Bilateral exercises such as Cope Thunder 24-1 underscore the importance of allied and partner nations coming together to enhance interoperability between participating forces. One key aspect of this collaboration is ensuring secure communications are established to reduce barriers to sharing information during realistic training scenarios.

To support these efforts, the 644th Combat Communication Squadron, a unit with the mission to rapidly deploy in support of contingency response and humanitarian missions across the Indo-Pacific Command region, is in the Philippines delivering its capabilities. While supporting more than 20 Pacific Air Forces exercises, they continue to provide their communications expertise to enhance interoperability between the U.S. and the Philippines during Cope Thunder and Balikatan exercises.

“During Cope Thunder, our unit's mission is to support the attainment of service and combined training objectives alongside our Philippine Air Force allies,” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Jennifer Hernandez, Communication Mission Commander. “We provide critical communication support to ensure mission success and foster collaboration between our forces.”

The 644th CBCS conducted training with PAF personnel to enhance communication interoperability between both countries.

“The recent subject matter expert event conducted by the 644th CBCS focused on training with the Flexible Communication Package (FCP), capable of supporting up to 2,000 users,” said Hernandez. “This equipment enables us to establish a minimal footprint, similar to an Air Expeditionary Wing, with the flexibility to expand as needed.”

The 644 CBCS hosted a training event where they provided hands-on training to share their knowledge and expertise with their Philippine counterparts.

“The training with the U.S. has been highly beneficial in several ways. Firstly, it expands the PAF's capacity to host and engage in international exercises, thereby enhancing readiness and operational efficiency.

Secondly, it strengthens interoperability between the PAF and PACAF, fostering closer collaboration during joint operations,” said PAF 1st Lt. John B Mangaoang, assistant director for command and control capability for the office of the assistant chief of Air Staff. “Additionally, the exchange of knowledge allows PACAF's communication subject matter experts to provide valuable insights and expertise to their PAF counterparts, particularly regarding communication equipment like combat net radios.”

The U.S. is committed to supporting the modernization efforts of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, through bilateral exercise, we enhance interoperability, support the safeguarding of Philippine territory, and preserving lives and livelihoods through collaborative efforts.

“The knowledge acquired during the training will greatly facilitate communication between both militaries,” said Mangaoang. “Understanding how PACAF operates and communicates enables the PAF to align its communication strategies and equipment acquisitions accordingly, ensuring seamless interoperability and effective joint operations between the two forces.”

Bilateral training exercises like Cope Thunder 24 reinforce the U.S.’s commitment to peace and prosperity in the region. Through these exercise events and shared challenges, we enhance our capability to collaborate effectively, working shoulder-to-shoulder to protect Philippine interests and support local populations.

“Both militaries gained invaluable knowledge and insights into communication equipment and interoperability standards,” added Hernandez. “This exchange ensures that future acquisitions align with interoperability requirements, facilitating seamless integration and enhancing joint operational capabilities.”