Meeting to bolster 'positive momentum' in PH-US defense alliance

By Priam Nepomuceno

May 12, 2023, 4:01 pm

<p>United States Army chief Gen. James McConville (left) and DND chief Carlito Galvez Jr, (right) <em>(Photo courtesy of DND)</em></p>

United States Army chief Gen. James McConville (left) and DND chief Carlito Galvez Jr, (right) (Photo courtesy of DND)

MANILA – The meeting between Department of National Defense (DND) chief Carlito Galvez Jr. and United States Army chief Gen. James McConville highlights the positive momentum of the defense alliance between Manila and Washington DC.

"The meeting between the two officials builds on the positive momentum of the Philippines-US defense alliance and further reinforces the close and cooperative military relationship between the two nations," DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in a statement Friday.

He added that McConville's visit to the DND chief on May 10 is part of a series of high-level visits by American officials, which indicate the US government's desire to strengthen the alliance between the two nations.

Other US officials who have visited the Philippines during the Marcos administration were Vice President Kamala Harris; Secretary of State Anthony Blinken; Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin; Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall III; Admiral John Aquilino, US Indo-Pacifc Command chief; Admiral Michael Gilday, US Chief of Navy Operations; Lindsey Ford, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense for South and Southeast Asia; and Mira Resnick, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Political and Military Affairs, Department of State.

The two officials also discussed the strong and enduring defense partnership between the Philippines and the United States.

Andolong said the meeting highlighted the productive outcomes of high-level engagements between the two countries such as President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.'s recent official visit to the US
"Senior Undersecretary Galvez expressed his deepest appreciation for the warm hospitality accorded by the US Government to the President and the Philippine delegation during his visit to the US Department of Defense. President Marcos was given military honors with a 21-gun salute at both the Pentagon and Arlington Memorial Cemetery -- a rare, one-of-a-kind privilege given to a visiting dignitary," he added.

During the meeting, Galvez welcomed the successful execution of the largest iteration of the "Balikatan" Exercise as well as the conduct of Exercise "Salaknib," the annual Army-to-Army exercise geared at strengthening the interoperability between Filipino and American soldiers.

"He also recalled that both activities featured live-fire exercises and utilized capabilities such as the Javelin anti-tank weapon system, and the high mobility artillery rocket system (HIMARS)," Andolong said.

Meanwhile, McConville highlighted the importance of both armed forces working together and building long-lasting relationships.

"He mentioned that in the region, there is peace through strength, and strength comes from allies and friends working together," Andolong said.

Both officials emphasized the strong people-to-people engagements between the Philippines and the US, recalling fond memories and shared experiences of junior officers participating in joint courses with the US Army and other prestigious multi-level International Military Education and Training program being provided by the US Armed Forces.

"Gen. McConville was amazed when Senior Undersecretary Galvez shared that no less than six cabinet secretaries in the previous administration were graduates of US training programs in Fort Benning, Georgia and other military courses and institutions," Andolong said.

The Philippines and the United States have a longstanding and strong defense alliance forged through decades of cooperation and mutual support. (PNA)