Hawaii National Guard, Philippines strengthen partnership

By Master Sgt. Mysti Bicoy, 154th Wing Public Affairs - Hawaii Air National GuardMarch 15, 2024

Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board Standing Committee members complete the first of several meetings March 7, 2024, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, Philippines. The MDB and the SEB work together to coordinate a framework for defense and security cooperation between the U.S. and Philippine militaries.
Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board Standing Committee members complete the first of several meetings March 7, 2024, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, Philippines. The MDB and the SEB work together to coordinate a framework for defense and security cooperation between the U.S. and Philippine militaries. (Photo Credit: Photo by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Mysti Bicoy) VIEW ORIGINAL

CAMP AGUINALDO, Philippines — The Hawaii National Guard and Armed Forces of the Philippines strengthened their partnership during the 2025 Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board standing committee meeting in Quezon City, March 6-7, 2024.

This bilateral gathering, steered by high-level military strategists from both nations, kicked off a year-long agenda with over 500 joint planning and training initiatives to advance security goals.

Hawaii and the Philippines share a bond through the State Partnership Program. This initiative fosters long-term security relationships and international cooperation by connecting National Guard units with foreign militaries.

Through the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau program, each geographic combatant command in 100 nations partners with the 50 states, three territories and Washington, D.C. Seven new partner nations will be paired with states soon.

For the March event, Hawaii Guardsmen planned and coordinated transportation logistics while the Philippines hosted the exchange.

“As a supporting effort from the SPP, the U.S. and the Philippines have been able to collaborate on a wide range of initiatives, including disaster response, humanitarian assistance, and peacekeeping operations,” said U.S Army Col. John Udani, director of military support, Hawaii National Guard. “By working together, we are able to address common challenges more effectively, promote regional stability, and contribute to the advancement of shared security objectives in the Asia-Pacific region.”

The Philippine and U.S. members said they were eager to continue tight-knit cooperation in areas vital to national security. These include counterterrorism, maritime security, cybersecurity, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

“The Philippines is the oldest treaty ally of the U.S. in the Indo-Pacific Command,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Stephen Brightman, bilateral affairs officer for the U.S. Embassy, Manila. “The Hawaii and Guam National Guard continues to play a vital role as a partner to build capacity and enhance partnerships to ensure a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”

In 2023, Guardsmen from Hawaii and Guam participated in more than 30 engagements, while Guardsmen worldwide completed nearly 1,500 engagements.

The MDB and SEB, established in 1958 and 2006, respectively, form the annual MDB-SEB, which coordinates a framework for defense and security cooperation between the U.S. and Philippine militaries.

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