U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim talks about recently concluded Tempest Wind drill during a joint press conference with Philippine Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana on September 26, 2017.
Ambassador Kim: Thank you all for joining us this afternoon. I am always pleased to stand next to my good friend Secretary Lorenzana especially on this occasion of discussing a very special initiative between our two countries.
Tempest Wind was unique in important ways and went far beyond our normal array of joint exercises. It was a challenging interagency drill for both sides, intended to test and improve the ability of our nations to plan, coordinate, and conduct counterterrorism operations. Over 1,200 U.S. and Philippine civilian and military participants contributed to the exercise.
Tempest Wind presented an unprecedented opportunity for comprehensive training for both senior leaders and action officers. The exercise involved everyone from senior officials of our national security agencies to the brave soldiers and police officers who do the front-line work of defending our safety and security.
Through this exercise we learned together, strengthened our critical relationships, and pinpointed areas of weakness, making both of our countries better, stronger and more prepared to confront 21st century challenges.
Even before the start of the exercise on the ground, senior officials from our countries’ Foreign Affairs, Defense, and law enforcement agencies gathered to share best practices, lessons learned, and prioritize objectives in our shared fight against international criminal activity and terrorism.
The exercises simulated a scenario involving a real commercial airliner filled with over one hundred fifty actors who played hostages created a realistic environment to test bilateral, interagency decision-making and tactical response. It also allowed us to examine crisis management structures and protocols.
What we learned through this exercise will help us focus future bilateral training to enhance our crisis response capabilities. As you know, counterterrorism continues to be a shared priority for our two nations, and of course important to the entire region.
As we mark the conclusion of a very productive exercise, Admiral Harris of the Pacific Command and General Año of the Armed Forces of the Philippines are leading the Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board annual meeting in Hawaii this week to determine the slate of joint activities for next year. We look forward to another successful year of opportunities to train together and learn from each other.
Tempest Wind was the latest and very significant example of our close ties. The United States will continue to support Philippine counterterrorism efforts and work jointly to address shared threats to the peace and security in the region. Thank you very much.