Global Security Contingency Fund Assistance Helps Philippines Bolster Maritime Security

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Philippine Coast Guard personnel apply their new small-boat repair skills in Palawan, June 2018
Philippine Coast Guard personnel apply their new small-boat repair skills in Palawan, June 2018 (Photo courtesy of US Embassy Manilla)

Global Security Contingency Fund Assistance Helps Philippines Bolster Maritime Security

Countries across the Indo-Pacific region face a host of complex and dynamic security challenges, most notably around maritime security and terrorism. The United States is confronting many of these shared security challenges with a long-time ally in the region – the Philippines. The friendship between our nations is more important than ever and the U.S. Departments of Defense and State are bolstering that friendship through The Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF). GSCF works to promote peace and prosperity in the Philippines through interagency training and delivery of essential U.S. defense and law enforcement equipment.

In 2014, the Secretaries of State and Defense decided to leverage the unique authority of GSCF to address emergent challenges posed by increased terrorism, smuggling, and piracy in the Philippines. GSCF established a team of U.S. Government experts from the Departments of State, Defense, and Justice to work together with the Philippine Ministries of Defense and Interior to build the capacity of the Philippines National Police (PNP) and Philippines Coast Guard (PCG) to increase Philippine maritime law enforcement technical capabilities. Through Navy Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), GSCF brought in local instructors to train coast guard and national police personnel on small-boat maintenance, maritime engineering, maritime domain awareness operations, and maritime logistics, all key capabilities to keeping vessels seaworthy and on mission. 

Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Manila John C. Law, together with Philippine Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Elson E. Hermogino, recently cut the ribbon on a new U.S.-funded centralized training facility in Balagtas, designed to enhance the Philippine Coast Guard’s capacity to train its workforce and sustain its equipment. While this training facility is under construction, GSCF is using containerized repair-training facilities, or “shops-in-a-box,” to deliver small-boat maintenance training to wherever units are located across the Philippine archipelago. This reduces the burden on units by providing urgently needed training until the centralized technical training center is ready. Over 2,000 Coast Guard and National Police personnel received training. As a result, local maintenance technicians in maritime law enforcement units across the Philippines can now conduct maintenance and repair work on-site instead of losing capabilities while vessels are taken offline. This translates to a significant improvement in the Philippine Coast Guard’s small-boat operational readiness and improved maritime security.

DCM Law and Admiral Hermogino Unveil Barracks at Balagtas Maritime Training Facility, February 2019 (photo courtesy of U.S. Embassy Manila)

In the Philippine Coast Guard District Palawan, the district responsible for security in the contested Spratly Islands/South China Sea, the Coast Guard Commander noted that the GSCF-provided training has enabled his technicians to conduct maintenance in Palawan, thereby reducing asset down times and increasing District Palawan’s operational readiness and patrol hours. Several other districts also reported that, for the first time, they did not ship any vessels to Manila for repair or maintenance in the previous year.

As the training facility at Balagtas develops through contributions from the Departments of State and Defense as well as from the U.S. Coast Guard and Joint Interagency Task Force West, GSCF continues to support efforts to develop self-sufficient maritime security capabilities by centralizing training and building the capability of Philippine maritime law enforcement to conduct trainings. GSCF-provided equipment will also be used in the Balagtas Training Center to train future generations of PCG enlisted technical specialists. The training center will serve as a depot level maintenance center for maintenance issues the field cannot resolve, institutionalizing previous GSCF field trainings and allowing the PCG to maintain its own training capacity in the future. 

The United States has provided the Philippines with over $350 million in military-related assistance since 2001. Our engagement through GSCF demonstrates our steadfast commitment to supporting the Philippines’ enhancement of their capability to monitor their maritime domain and respond effectively to contingencies. By working with interagency partners, GSCF assistance helped enable a critical ally to improve its maritime security capabilities, and has served to strengthen bilateral ties and facilitate greater burden-sharing, to preserve regional stability in the South China Sea.

While this training facility is under construction, GSCF is using containerized repair-training facilities, or “shops-in-a-box,” to deliver small-boat maintenance training to wherever units are located across the Philippine archipelago. This reduces the burden on units by providing urgently needed training until the centralized technical training center is ready. Over 2,000 Coast Guard and National Police personnel received training. As a result, local maintenance technicians in maritime law enforcement units across the Philippines can now conduct maintenance and repair work on-site instead of losing capabilities while vessels are taken offline. This translates to a significant improvement in the Philippine Coast Guard’s small-boat operational readiness and improved maritime security.

Philippine National Police – Maritime Group on patrol using GSCF-provided training and equipment, June 2017

In the Philippine Coast Guard District Palawan, the district responsible for security in the contested Spratly Islands/South China Sea, the Coast Guard Commander noted that the GSCF-provided training has enabled his technicians to conduct maintenance in Palawan, thereby reducing asset down times and increasing District Palawan’s operational readiness and patrol hours. Several other districts also reported that, for the first time, they did not ship any vessels to Manila for repair or maintenance in the previous year.

As the training facility at Balagtas develops through contributions from the Departments of State and Defense as well as from the U.S. Coast Guard and Joint Interagency Task Force West, GSCF continues to support efforts to develop self-sufficient maritime security capabilities by centralizing training and building the capability of Philippine maritime law enforcement to conduct trainings. GSCF-provided equipment will also be used in the Balagtas Training Center to train future generations of PCG enlisted technical specialists. The training center will serve as a depot level maintenance center for maintenance issues the field cannot resolve, institutionalizing previous GSCF field trainings and allowing the PCG to maintain its own training capacity in the future. 

The United States has provided the Philippines with over $350 million in military-related assistance since 2001. Our engagement through GSCF demonstrates our steadfast commitment to supporting the Philippines’ enhancement of their capability to monitor their maritime domain and respond effectively to contingencies. By working with interagency partners, GSCF assistance helped enable a critical ally to improve its maritime security capabilities, and has served to strengthen bilateral ties and facilitate greater burden-sharing, to preserve regional stability in the South China Sea.

About the Author: Alec Metz serves as the Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator for the Global Security Contingency Fund, Office of Global Programs and Initiatives, in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.  

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Alec Metz

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Alec Metz serves as the Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator for the Global Security Contingency Fund, Office of Global Programs and Initiatives, in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.