BASA AIR BASE, Philippines -- Airmen from throughout Pacific Air Forces area of responsibility traveled to Basa and Clark Air Bases, Philippines, to conduct several Subject Matter Expert Exchanges with Airmen from the Philippine Air Force, Jan. 23 through 27.
The SMEEs involved discussions of munitions, maintenance, logistics and hot pit refueling and were held as a precursor to cooperation in future large exercises in the Indo-Pacific region.
“These SMEEs are really great collaborations between the two forces and lay the foundation toward a more detailed execution like Balikatan and Cope Thunder,” said Philippine Air Force 1st Lt. Carlo Emmanuel Canlas, event lead. “It’s important for the PAF and PACAF to improve coordination so future operations and exercises can be successful.”
Throughout the five-day event, PACAF Airmen discussed various topics with their PAF counterparts such as: explosive safety, expeditionary munitions storage, protective facility designs, logistics to move the force from one location to another, hot pit operations, flying hour programs and maintenance scheduling among many others.
“We were able to share our different programs with each other which was incredibly insightful,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Rainier Raquion, 154th Wing Maintenance Operations Flight, Plans and Scheduling non-commissioned officer in charge. For Raquion, this event was more than conducting training; he was born in the Philippines and hasn’t been back to visit since 1991. “Meeting the people and being able to see the place I was born and how it’s changed was a great experience.”
Hawaii is one of the State Partners of the Philippines through the State Partnership Program—or SPP—which began in 2000. One key aspect of the SPP links a unique component of the Department of Defense–a state's National Guard—with the armed forces or equivalent of a partner country in a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship.
Through the SPP, the National Guard conducts military-to-military engagements in support of defense security goals. The program also leverages whole-of-society relationships and capabilities to facilitate broader interagency engagements spanning military, government, economic and social spheres.
At the end of the exchanges, both nation’s Airmen gathered for a debrief where leaders discussed the progress that was made and what they hope to accomplish with future engagements.
“This was an incredibly successful SMEE,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Jennifer Nuanes, 154th Wing, Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge. “It wasn’t just the information sharing that made it successful. It was the sharing of our cultures, our food and our experiences that built deeper relationships between our two countries. I look forward to future engagements and further enhancing these strong bonds.”