U.S.-Philippine Alliance Critical to Asia-Pacific, Official Says
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2012 The U.S.-Philippine alliance plays a prominent role in the security landscape of the Asia-Pacific region, and the Defense Department continues to build military-to-military relations with the nation, a senior Pentagon official said here today.
Speaking during a conference on the Philippines hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Mark W. Lippert, assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, said the relationship is “a new and exciting approach to the region.”
“I would say this is one of the most important alliances we have,” he said. “It’s a critically important part of our security discussions in Asia. The mil-to-mil relations have been on an upswing over the past decade.”
The effort has produced a true partnership, he said, and the countries now are poised for a new chapter.
Lippert said he believes working-level contacts have developed and matured, putting the United States in a strong position to work collaboratively with Manila on security-related issues. He explained a three-part approach to illustrate what the Defense Department is doing to help further the alliance.
The first point, pre-positioning of humanitarian and disaster relief supplies, also helps to enhance and upgrade the communication infrastructure so the two militaries can talk more effectively to each other, he said.
Another effort is developing a maritime awareness, with the most tangible result being a coastal watch center that was announced at a meeting of the two nations’ defense and diplomatic leaders earlier this year.
“The second line of operation is our mil-to-mil engagement,” Lippert said. “Again, that’s been going on for quite some time. It’s really reached new levels.” Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, have engaged with the Philippine military in recent months, he noted.
Exercises are another important aspect of broadening and deepening the military-to-military relationship, Lippert said.
“I think we’re really poised for a liftoff here,” he added. “I think, in part, it’s a tribute to all the good work that has been done in the past decade or so.”