DND backs Indo-Pacific defense collaboration endorsed by US

(File photo / Balikatan Exercise)

The Department of National Defense (DND) on Saturday evening, June 1, expressed support to a new concept of cooperation among countries in and around the Indo-Pacific to ensure safety and security in the region amid shared security challenges.

Endorsed by the United States government and presented by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III at the 2024 Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD) in Singapore, the Indo-Pacific Defense Industrial Base Collaboration seeks to integrate the defense industries of like-minded nations in the Indo-Pacific, thus, breaking down nation barriers and fortifying shared capacity of the defense industrial bases of US' allies and partners, including the Philippines, to "benefit security and stability in this region and beyond."

The collaboration is an outcome of extensive consultations among partner-countries in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world, including the Maluhia Talks held from April 30 to May 2 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Defense spokesperson Director Arsenio Andolong said the Philippines is confronted with multiple security challenges ranging from traditional to the non-traditional, including "unconventional actors who employ a full spectrum of tactics."

In addressing such issues, Andolong said the Philippine government acquired defense assets to secure national interests and to protect the Filipino people, and alongside this endeavor is the sustainment of defense equipment.

"Hence, it is imperative for us to collaborate with like-minded nations to optimize an expanded and resilient supply chain across the region. This endeavor will ensure a shared defense resilience that is vital to regional security, economic security, and prosperity across the Indo-Pacific," he explained.

The country has embarked on various ways to enable and develop the Philippines’ defense capability through the Self-Reliant Defense Posture Program (SRDP). It aims to enhance the country's locally produced advanced weaponry and equipment for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Through the SRDP, it will involve local industries in defense infrastructure and production and manufacturing of advanced weapon systems, and the co-production, co-development, and licensed production opportunities will be possible for components in larger systems.

Co-sustainment of defense equipment and infrastructure will be pursued through regional maintenance, repair, and overhaul and upgrade activities, Andolong noted.

Further, research and development (R&D) shall pave the way for collaboration among nations for the advancement of science and technology in developing critical technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, quantum biotechnology, and semi-conductors, he added.

"Overall there should be a continuous dialogue with our partner countries that will promote opportunities to have exchanges of expertise, best practices, lessons learned and training for upskills and reskills to meet the continuing demands of sustaining and upgrading our defense weapon systems," the DND spokesman concluded.

In a handout released by the US Department of Defense, it quoted as saying that Austin cited various achievements of Indo-Pacific nations working together to preserve peace in the region.

It includes the US and Philippines' efforts to field maritime defensive capabilities and expand maritime domain awareness across the region; the US-Philippines Balikatan exercise concluded in April and attended by Australia, France and more than a dozen observer countries; the expansion of US rotational access to four new sites in the Philippines through the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) ; Japan's development of a glide phase interceptor to counter hypersonic threats; India's historic progress on co-producing fighter jet engines and armored vehicles; major investments in the US' submarine industrial base to help strengthen the AUKUS (Australia, United Kingdom, US) partnership;

Japan and South Korea's creation of a multi-year trilateral exercise plan; making bigger multinational exercises such as Super Garuda Shield in Indonesia and Cobra Gold in Thailand; Papua New Guinea's finalization of a historic Defense Cooperation Agreement last year; Tokyo and Seoul's sharing of early-warning data on North Korean missiles in real time; and advanced US partnership with Australia and Japan on an integrated air- and missile-defense architecture.