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Jan 31, 2024


In a landmark development at the 2022 U.S.-Philippines Bilateral Strategic Dialog (BSD), both nations pledged to fortify their alliance through the creation of a groundbreaking Philippines - Security Sector Assistance Roadmap (P-SSAR). This strategic initiative is designed to seamlessly link strategy to resources, ensuring a focused approach to mutual security assistance planning. The P-SSAR aims to address shared security challenges by investing in capabilities agreed upon bilaterally, fostering efficiency in the expenditure of foreign military financing (FMF) and International Security Cooperation Program (ISCP) funds. 

The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) has entrusted the Institute for Security Governance (ISG) with the pivotal role of designing and implementing the P-SSAR. Under a five-year Bilateral Action Plan, ISG is spearheading the effort through a collaborative security sector Action Officer Working Group (AOWG). The first AOWG session that OSD convened witnessed bilateral consultations involving key players such as the Philippines Department of National Defense, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Transportation (which oversees the Philippine Coast Guard), U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, and the U.S. Department of State. 

ISG’s domain (e.g., Air, Ground, Maritime) and functional (e.g., Intelligence, Logistics) group design approach within the AOWG focused on prioritizing capabilities aligned with current strategic guidance. This strategy aims to enhance interoperability and support the Philippines in transitioning from internal security operations to a robust territorial defense posture. The second AOWG session marked an historic milestone with the introduction of the first-ever bilateral Assessment, Monitoring, and Evaluation framework in the Indo-Pacific region. This framework serves as a comprehensive tool to track progress towards capability end states, ensuring accountability and effectiveness. 

Leveraging a capability-based planning approach, ISG provides crucial advising to the AOWG on agile acquisition strategies. This includes the use of properly sequenced hybrid funding mechanisms such as national funds, FMF, and International Security Cooperation Program (ISCP) funds. The goal is to ensure the affordability of systems and facilitate the rapid development and fielding of new capabilities. ISG further contributes by offering cost estimation for both material (e.g., equipment) and non-material solutions (e.g., doctrine), enabling responsible budgeting and long-term sustainment. Additionally, pre-costed and vetted capability packages are prepared for immediate action through letters of request for Foreign Military Sales (FMS), ISCP proposals, or national funds. 

The impact of the P-SSAR is already evident, with FY24 FMF allocations directed towards capabilities that enhance territorial integrity in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea. Philippine President Marcos, acknowledging the strides in bilateral cooperation, highlighted the ISG-led P-SSAR effort as an example of our increased bilateral cooperation during an address at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. A significant milestone is anticipated during the 2024 2+2 Ministerial in the Philippines, where the official signing of the P-SSAR is slated as a key deliverable. This underscores the commitment of both nations to transforming alliances and contributing significantly to regional security matters. 

In conclusion, the U.S.-Philippines alliance is at the forefront of shaping regional security through the innovative P-SSAR. The collaborative efforts, guided by ISG, reflect a commitment to strategic planning, efficient resource utilization, and the development of capabilities that address evolving security challenges. As the P-SSAR progresses towards official signing in 2024, it stands as a testament to the enduring strength and adaptability of this vital alliance in the Indo-Pacific region.