Strength of U.S.-Philippine alliance showcased during COMPACAF visit

Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander, is greeted by a formation of Philippine Air Force airmen during a visit to Basa Air Base, Philippines, Dec. 12. PHOTO BY TECH. SGT. ERIC DONN

PACIFIC AIR FORCES PUBLIC AFFAIRS

“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 to Manila, Philippines, Dec. 10-13.

Pacific Air Forces, headquartered at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, is one of nine U.S. Air Force major commands and the air component of U.S. Pacific Command.

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 interoper-ability 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.”

Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander, and Delfin Lorenzana, Republic of Philippines Secretary of National Defense, discuss opportunities to enhance interoperability and capacity with the Philippine Air Force and the Armed Forces of the Philippines at the Department of National Defense General, Camp Aguinaldo, Manila, Philippines Dec. 11.

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 Maj. Chief Master Sgt. Nelson Mercado, as well as members of the U.S. Embassy in Manila.

Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy speaks with Philippines Air Force pilots during a visit to Clark Air Base, Philippines, Dec. 12.

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.”

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