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US air force secretary on Manila visit

Barbara Barett
U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barett . facebook.com/USEmbassyPH

THE U.S. Secretary of the Air Force was in Manila on Wednesday to reaffirm the US’ steadfast military partnership with the Philippines.

US Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett met with Undersecretary for the Department of National Defense (DND) Cardozo Luna and senior Philippine military officials on Wednesday.

While in Manila, Barrett also met with Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Gilbert Gapay and Philippine Air Force Commander Lt. General Allen Paredes.

Barrett underscored the importance of the U.S.-Philippine alliance to national and regional security, and discussed opportunities for greater bilateral security cooperation.

She also highlighted U.S. COVID-19-related assistance and disaster relief for recent typhoon victims, as well as ongoing US support for Philippine counterterrorism and maritime security efforts.

“From joint counterterrorism efforts to humanitarian support, the US and Philippines have a long history of working together to protect global security through regional stability,” said Barrett.

“The US Air and Space Forces look forward to building on our strong relationship with the Philippine military through greater interoperability and training opportunities with the Philippine Air Force, as well as exploring where our nations can cooperate in the space domain.”

“We welcome the visit of Secretary Barrett, and we look forward to working with our U.S. counterparts in pursuit of our common goals and interests,” said Luna of the visit.

“With our shared history and long-standing partnership with the U.S., we also look forward to continuing our cooperation on various aspects of defense and security, including the Philippines’ current thrust to modernize its Armed Forces,” DND Assistant Secretary for Logistics, Acquisitions and Self-Reliant Defense Posture Jesus Rey Avilla added.

Barrett’s visit coincides with the handover to the Philippine Navy of a ScanEagle Unmanned Aerial System, a Php710-million ($14.79 million) drone that will boost the Philippine military’s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, strengthening maritime domain awareness and border security.

The Secretary’s trip follows US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien’s November 22-23 visit, during which he announced P868 million ($18 million) in additional military equipment and training for the AFP, as well as an additional P169 million ($3.5 million) in U.S. humanitarian assistance to typhoon-affected communities.

The Philippines is by far the largest recipient of US military assistance in the Indo-Pacific region.

Since 2015, the United States has delivered more than P33 billion ($650 million) worth of planes, ships, armored vehicles, small arms, and other military equipment to the Philippines, while training side-by-side with our Filipino allies.