AFP welcomes expanded joint military exercises
Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Hernando Iriberri on Saturday welcomed the proposal of a top US Navy official to expand the joint military exercises between the Philippines and the United States, saying the proposal “jibes well with plans for increased multilateral military engagements within the Asia Pacific Region.”
Iriberri said the proposal of Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, would turn bilateral exercises into multilateral engagements, which would complement the AFP’s plans for more drills with counterpart armed forces in the Asia Pacific.
“In fact, we have been doing this to a certain extent and within the bounds allowed by existing laws and national policies,” he said.
The US Embassy in Manila said on Monday Swift was “very interested” in expanding the annual US Navy and AFP combat exercises into multilateral engagements with other partner-nations.
“It is important that the approach be a multilateral approach, not a bilateral one. These problems are common to many countries, not just one,” Swift said in a statement released by the embassy yesterday.
He cited the Philippines’ move to hold military readiness exercises not only with the United States but also with Japan, also a known US ally.
Swift was in Manila on July 16-19 to meet with senior AFP officers led by Iriberri and Philippine Navy Flag Officer in Command Vice Adm. Jesus Millan.
Aside from routine calls on his counterparts, Swift joined a routine P-8 observation flight over the West Philippine Sea.
Col. Noel Detoyato, AFP public affairs office chief, said the AFP had conducted multilateral exercises with Asean neighbors Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia, which focused on maritime security and joint border patrol.
“Currently, we are focused on enhancing interoperability on HADR (humanitarian assistance and disaster response) operations, especially after the devastation brought about by Supertyphoon Yolanda. Remember that several foreign militaries volunteered to help at the time,” Detoyato said. Cynthia D. Balana
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