Philippines, Australia agree on measures to boost military cooperation

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 24 2017 04:33 PM

MANILA - Philippines and Australia have agreed on a new range of measures in a bid to increase military cooperation to build capacity and address threats from terrorism.

Under the agreement, forged during a bilateral meeting Philippines and Australia's defense leaders, the Australian Defense Force will send mobile training teams that will begin providing urban warfare and counterterrorism training to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The teams will be made up of approximately 80 Australian personnel who will go to Philippine military bases as agreed with the AFP to provide training to the Philippine Army and Marines.

Australian defense minister Marise Payne said Australia is committed to support Philippine efforts in defeating terrorism. 

"It's very practical training by the ADF which will provide and support the Philippines defense force to be able to counter what are very brutal tactics employed by terrorists," Payne said.

The Royal Australian Navy will also conduct ship visits to the Philippines which will also involve "a range of cooperative activities to support the development of capacity" of the Philippine Navy. 

"This cooperation will begin with an Australian patrol boat visit in the next month," Payne said. 

Philippines and Australia also agreed to enhance intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in the Southern Philippines, strengthen information sharing, maritime security engagement, and bilateral maritime patrols. It also includes expert advice on countering ISIS-inspired narratives on social media.

"We are also going to increase our intelligence cooperation including expert advice on countering Daesh-inspired social media narratives. We know that the battle against terrorism does just occur in the physical combat zone. It occurs in the Internet zone, it occurs in the cyberworld to a degree that it is perhaps difficult to appreciate unless you are very, very focused on that. This is something which we've been very conscious of in Iraq and Syria," Payne said. 

Australia and the Philippines will also co-host a multi-agency civil, military and law enforcement seminar on post-conflict rehabilitation later this year, "drawing lessons from past operations, and international and local civil, military, police expertise."

"In addition to our strong Philippine-Australia defense relations, the region needs the cooperation of our ASEAN neighbors to keep Deash's aspirations in Southeast Asia in check and to prevent it from spreading further. All of us, all of the nations in the region and further afield have to learn from what has happened here recently," she said.