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NEWS | July 11, 2016

Philippine Air Contingent Wraps Up Activity, Cooperation

By Capt. Elias Zani

CLARK AIR BASE, Philippines -- The second detachment of the U.S. Air Contingent to the Philippines, U.S. Navy Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 138 expeditionary detachment, recently completed training alongside the Armed Forces of the Philippines for routine operational missions that enhance regional maritime domain awareness.

Following its arrival June 15, 2016, VAQ 138 conducted a 15-day mission with supporting units from across the Department of Defense, providing an opportunity for U.S. service members to reinforce the historically strong relationship with the Filipino people. Subject matter expert exchanges were held June 27-29 to provide an exchange of tactics and procedures that boost interoperability in future missions.

"The focus of the SME exchanges was to provide insight for our Filipino partners into how the U.S. military conducts operations at home and downrange," U.S. Navy CDR Aaron Tabor, the VAQ 138 commanding officer, said. "This allows them to see what has worked for us and potentially apply it to their existing military procedures."

The Air Contingent was viewed as a success by Philippine counterparts.

"Doing these exercises and the [prior] coordination is preparing for the implementation of this type of operation, if needed," said Philippine Air Force Maj. Gen. Raul del Rosario, PAF First Air Division commander. "I hope that we can improve the way our countries do things in the future and be more specific in the shared goals that we hope to achieve together."

U.S. and Filipino senior military leaders met throughout the Air Contingent's second iteration to discuss ways in which to further enhance the bilateral nature of future iterations and build upon accomplishments to date.

"Maj. Gen. del Rosario and I held some very productive talks about how we can improve future Air Contingent iterations to develop inter-active events that fully benefit both Filipino and U.S. joint air forces," said Brig. Gen. Dirk Smith, Director of Air and Cyberspace Operations at Pacific Air Forces.

"We both recognize the importance of partnering closely to help identify opportunities that will cultivate stronger bilateral capabilities and relations between our nations."

After departing Clark Air Base, the VAQ 138 detachment redeployed to Misawa Air Base in Japan to resume a previously scheduled deployment to the western Pacific.

The first temporary Air Contingent here in April was comprised of five U.S. Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt aircraft, three HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters and approximately 200 personnel deployed from multiple Pacific Air Forces units.

Routine operations such as these Air Contingents and exercises like Balikatan will continue to be scheduled in order to promote regional security and foster the historically strong relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines.


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