By Roy Mabasa
“Admiral Harry Harris of the Pacific Command and General Eduardo Año of the Armed Forces of the Philippines are leading the Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board annual meeting in Hawaii this week to determine the slate of joint activities for next year,” US Ambassador to Manila Sung Kim disclosed in his remarks delivered at the conclusion of Tempest Wind, a counterterrorism drill between the Philippines and the US. “We look forward to another successful year of opportunities to train together and learn from each other.”
According to Ambassador Kim, Tempest Wind was “unique in important ways and went far beyond our normal array of joint exercises.”
“It was a challenging inter-agency drill for both sides, intended to test and improve the ability of our nations to plan, coordinate, and conduct counterterrorism operations,” he said.
The drill involved over 1,200 US and Philippine civilian and military participants and simulated a scenario involving a real commercial airliner filled with 150 actors who played hostages creating a realistic environment to test bilateral, inter-agency decision-making and tactical response.
“Tempest Wind presented an unprecedented opportunity for comprehensive training for both senior leaders and action officers,” said Kim. “The exercise involved everyone from senior officials of our national security agencies to the brave soldiers and police officers who do the front-line work of defending our safety and security.”
The top American diplomat in Manila said through the exercise the Philippines and the US “learned together, strengthened our critical relationships, and pinpointed areas of weakness, making both of our countries better, stronger and more prepared to confront 21st century challenges.”
“Tempest Wind was the latest and very significant example of our close ties,” said Kim. “The United States will continue to support Philippine counterterrorism efforts and work jointly to address shared threats to the peace and security in the region.”