Expect more training exercises between the Philippines and Australia, as Operation Augury transitions into an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Program on December 1.
Arsenio Andolong, spokesperson of the Department of National Defense (DND), said the measure will result in quicker and more frequent training between forces of the two nations.
“If you read the statement, puro training ang kanilang pinaka-thrust nila ngayon, magsi-share sila ng skills enhancement saka magko-commit sila na (their main thrust now is more on trainings. They will also share their skills enhancement measures and commit) to conduct training and activities with our Armed Forces,” Andolong said.
This commitment is attributable to Australia’s security stake in Southeast Asia and their desire to raise their engagement to a higher level, he added.
During the announcement of the program at the ADMM-Plus in Bangkok, Thailand on Saturday, both Australian Defense Minister Linda Reynolds and DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said this reinforces a shared long-term commitment to countering the regional terrorist threat and building on the well-established bilateral defense relationship.
Operation Augury has so far provided counter-terrorism training to 10,000 members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines aside from essential land-based activities focused on urban combat and joint coordination skills; air training focused on enhancing air coordination, and maritime activities.
Both Reynolds and Lorenzana agreed that an Enhance Defense Cooperation Program will allow the Australian Defense Force to continue delivering the capacity-building support for counter-terrorism support requested by the Philippines.
This will also provide funding certainty and greater flexibility to meet the broader needs of the Australia-Philippines bilateral defense relationship.