Australian Embassy
The Philippines

Defence Cooperation

Pending Approval



Historical Ties

Military ties between Australia and the Philippines date back to 1922 when Rear Admiral John Saumarez Dumaresq CB CVO, the captain of HMAS SYDNEY during the last two years of the First World War (1917-1918) and the first Australian born commander of the Australian fleet (1919-1922), was accorded the equivalent of a State Funeral in Manila.

During the Second World War

Australian military involvement in the liberation of the Philippines began in June 1943, when eight Australian Servicemen who had escaped from Sandakan in Sabah joined the Filipino guerrillas fighting on Tawi-Tawi in the southern Philippines.

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) contribution to the liberation began with photographic reconnaissance missions over the Philippines from August 1944. The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) contributed cruisers, destroyers, hydrographic survey and landing ships, while Australian Army soldiers served as analysts in the RAAF signals intelligence unit and as bombardment liaison teams and landing detachments aboard the RAN ships.

RAN ships also participated in the Battle of Surigao Strait on 25 October 1944 when the Japanese fleet was severely defeated while attempting to destroy the Leyte landing forces..

The Australian contribution to the second Allied landing in the Philippines on 15 December 1944 was smaller but no less significant. To guard against Japanese Navy interference from nearby Manila Bay, twenty-four RAAF Catalinas mined the entrance to Manila Bay on the eve of the landing.

In the third and final major landing in the Philippines forty-six RAN sailors were killed in three separate attacks while the ships were approaching and in the Lingayen Gulf. RAN cruisers, destroyers, hydrographic survey and landing ships together with their Army detachments participated in the operation.

Australia's military ties with the Philippines continued even after liberation. Operating from Manila, Mindoro, Tawi-Tawi and Palawan, RAAF Catalinas, Liberators, Kittyhawks and Beaufighters supported the Australian operations between March and June 1945. Further north during the same period, RAAF Catalinas used the Lingayen Gulf as a staging point to mine strategic points.

Six years later, Australian and Filipino soldiers fought historic battles to defend South Korea during the 1951 Chinese Spring Offensive.

More recently, Filipinos served in the Australian led International Force East Timor (INTERFET) during East Timor's transition to independence in 1999.

Defence Relationship 

Australia’s defence engagement with the Philippines is underpinned by an Enhanced Defence Cooperation Program (E-DCP), with key pillars of maritime security and counter-terrorism (CT), in addition to training and education, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and Gender, Peace and Security.

Defence engagement occurs under the provisions of the longstanding MOU on Defence Cooperation (1995) and the Australia-Philippines Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (2012), offering a comprehensive legal and operational framework for defence cooperation. In 2022, Defence concluded two additional frameworks to strengthen cooperation: a Mutual Logistics Support Arrangement and an MOU on Defence Industry Cooperation and Logistics.

The bilateral relationship is shaped and reinforced via the annual Joint Defence Cooperation Committee, a subordinate Defence Cooperation Working Group, and service staff talks. Defence, along with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, also engages in the biennial Philippine-Australia Strategic Dialogue, with counterpart government agencies from the Philippines.

Enhanced Defence Cooperation Program

In December 2019, Defence incorporated existing CT support under Operation AUGURY-Philippines into an E-DCP – a sustainable, longer-term approach to our defence relationship. Under the E-DCP, Defence also established the Joint Australian Training Team-Philippines (JATT-P) to support a range of training engagement with the Armed Forces of the

In 2022, Defence implemented the JATT-P with two large Land Mobile Training Teams (MTTs) working closely with specialised units of the AFP, in addition to discrete maritime and air training across the Philippines.

Platform and senior leadership visits, as well as joint exercises, continue to be a key element of the E-DCP. In 2022, this grew significantly, with several incoming RAAF aircraft and RAN ships, and counterpart visits, including by the Chief of Staff AFP, Commanding Generals Philippine Army and Air Force, and the Australian Chief of Joint Operations and a/Deputy Secretary Strategy, Policy and Industry..   

Defence supports training and education opportunities for personnel of all ranks from the AFP and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and middle-to-senior ranked uniform and civilian personnel from the Department of National Defense (DND). Training opportunities take the form of formal courses and workshops conducted in Australia or ADF MTTs, predominantly supported by the JATT-P in the Philippines.