Senior Philippine and U.S. officials observed a maritime domain awareness demonstration at the Philippine Coast Guard Headquarters here Jan. 27.
This event was the beginning of the initial phase of the first Philippine-U.S. conceptual program initiatives to enhance Philippine security and defense capabilities, and was spearheaded by the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, (MarForPac) Experimentation Center (MEC). The demonstration showcased the capabilities of the Maritime Persistent Surveillance Tower (MPST), an experimental maritime adaptation of the Persistent Ground Surveillance Tower (PGST) currently used in Afghanistan.
“The freedom enjoyed by our people and the rest of the world in roaming the Philippine waters – either for recreation, trade or livelihood – does not come free,” said Vice Adm. Rodolfo D. Isorena, Philippine Coast Guard commandant. “We, in the Philippine Coast Guard, pay the price with 24/7 vigilance and preparedness to respond to any untoward maritime incident.”
While the PCG has carried out this duty for the past years satisfactorily, Isorena recognizes the need for a stronger, modernized system capable of operating consistent with the changing times.
“The Philippines is fortunate to be learning from a trailblazer in the field of cutting-edge technology, the United States,” said Isorena. “Today, we are taking a step towards carrying out [initial plans] to outline the activities for enhancing the Philippines’ security capabilities.
The MPST is a land-based, mobile, multi-sensor payload platform that supports persistent 360-degree surveillance operations. The MPST detects and monitors surface contacts operating in the littorals, with various advanced sensors. The system is tailorable to meet specific requirements and mission parameters.
“One of the pillars of ensuring safety at the sea is the ability to detect maritime incidents and abnormal behaviors of vessels; knowing is the first step to responding,” said Isorena adamantly. “The sooner we get accurate information on the location and nature of a maritime occurrence, the quicker we can respond.”
During the demonstration, PCG personnel were familiarized with the operation and capabilities of the MPST. If successful, it will be a capability enhancement that improves maritime domain awareness particularly in humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) port traffic management scenarios.
“Both the United States and the Philippines have a continuing interest in strengthening our longstanding security alliance, which has provided a cornerstone for security and stability in the region for decades,” said U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Richard L. Simcock II, deputy commander of MarForPac. “Enhanced maritime situational awareness contributes to the accomplishment of a broad variety of missions, to include humanitarian assistance, maritime law enforcement, environmental protection and territorial defense, among others.
“Initiatives like the maritime domain awareness experiment help to maintain a high level of interoperability, enhance our military-to-military relations, and improve our combined capabilities.”
The demonstration is currently scheduled to conclude Feb. 10. Afterward, the tower will be packed up and stored at an Armed Forces of the Philippines facility until the next demonstration for the Philippine Navy in May during exercise Balikatan.