Thursday, April 7, 2016

Time for 'holistic transformation' in AFP: expert

Posted at 04/06/16 7:01 PM

A national defense expert said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) urgently needs ‘holistic transformation,’ noting that the upgrading of military equipment must go hand in hand with the advancement of human resources.
During the APEC meeting in November 2015, President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III and Department of National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin met with their counterparts to talk about purchases and donations of military equipment including assault jets, radars, drones and sea vessels, among others.
But National Defense College professor Chester Cabalza believes the acquisition of sophisticated military equipment is not enough to fully address concerns amid internal and external threats.
“It’s not only about acquisition, once you acquire, possess those sophisticated military equipment, you also have to train your human resources,” Cabalza.
“It must go hand in hand, the material possession and the human resources, for example there are plans that we will buy a submarine but of course aside from buying that submarine, you also have to train your sailors, it takes 5 to 15 years to train them,” he added.
He also said there must be a change in strategy and in structure within the Armed Forces, noting that the internal and external security threats are forcing a shift from terrestrial power operations to combined naval and air powers.
"The problem here, in my own perspective, is that majority of our military are coming from the Army and most of the chief staff are from the Army, so the priority, the interest are on the terrestrial power when in fact we are now shifting," he said.
"We want to see more chiefs of staff coming from the Navy and the Air Force in the future because of this sudden shift in our strategy," he added.
Cabalza believes these are all achievable for the country, with the government now open for changes in the current military strategy.
“The good thing is that we are now open to these changes and all of a sudden the people are all imbibing about these defense polices,” he said.
He also recognized the benefits of the Balikatan exercises with the US military on the improvement of the Philippine Armed Forces' competence and capability.

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