‘Civilianization’ of military diminishing AFP combat power – articleBy Frances Mangosing
MANILA, Philippines – The combat capability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is getting rusty due to its aggressive shift to civilian roles.
An unauthored article titled “Militum Phasellus: Developing an outlook of professionalism in the AFP” in the journal “The Air Force Way 2012” that was distributed during the Philippine Air Force’s 65th anniversary last Friday deplored this as it suggested that the military high command should start addressing the issue “by returning to its traditional or war-fighting roots.”
The article assessed the influence of the AFP’s expanded civilian roles.
“Obviously, military professionalism sets the parameters of what an officer can and cannot do. His or her expertise is on war-fighting; his responsibility is as an expert military adviser and as a soldier to his society, and his corporate character is that of a warrior. That is why the primary mission of the armed forces is to fight and win wars and that their level of professionalism would be measured by its accomplishment,” the article said.
It noted that it was difficult to evaluate the Philippine military’s shifting sense of orientation, however, but it cited a few parameters which served as indicators.
First, the expanded role of the military, in recognition of its unique capabilities and also because of the inability of many civilian agencies to perform their mandate, has affected its main mission as war-fighters.
While support to civilian agencies comes in secondary to combat, it has cost time that should have been devoted instead to combat training, adding that critical combat capabilities have been lost or transformed into capabilities that are oriented towards civilians and not soldiers, according to the article.
The military has taken non-combat roles, including as health workers, tree planters, school builders, among others.
“One needs only to read AFP anniversary programs or [annual] reports to see this trend,” the article said, without referring to Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP)-Bayanihan, the military’s campaign plan against insurgency which focuses on civilian-military operations. The IPSP gains are usually highlighted during military events.
“For example, the AFP at present does not have a combat engineering capability while it has several (civil) engineering brigades. Such diversion of missions and capabilities had given rise to a situation wherein people in the military no longer considered themselves as warriors,” the article also said.
“Instead, they perceived themselves as policemen, relief workers, educators, builders, health care providers, politicians – everything but war-fighters,” it added.
Another matter noted in the article was the education of military officers, saying there was a lack of interest in military theory and military history within the AFP.
“Yet ironically, foreign armed forces have seen more value in Philippine military history by thoroughly studying it than, with rare exceptions, their Filipino counterparts,” it said.
It also said that the military seemed “to have no inclination” in developing a program to organize its records to become historical material which can be used for doctrine development, education, and provide insights into the art of war.
The article added that majority of military officers have preference for courses such as management and business or public administration in their civilian schooling, over military courses offered in civilian schools.
“This would have been acceptable had the professional military educational centers of military history and excellence. Unfortunately, they themselves became influenced by their civilian counterparts in which paraphrase two officers who did a study on US command performance in Vietnam, “the military began to absorb the languages, style, and ethics of its civilian education” in effect, the military schools became “civilized,” it said.
The article also left two questions for the military officers: “Does it have an outlook that is professional enough to provide at the very least, competent leadership to the rank and file? Does it have military expertise professional as will responsibility as morale courage to advise political leaders that there are limits to what armed forces can do, and that removing these by expanding their roles runs dangers of diverting them from their primary mission and focus?”
“For the AFP to answer these questions successfully, it has to address the issue of military professionalism squarely by returning to its traditional or war-fighting roots. After all, the ultimate test of military professional is whether he or she can prevail in war over an adversary. These could be done and would reflect in training indoctrination and education of the personnel, especially of the officer corps,” it added.
The Air Force Way 2012, was “carefully crafted to show you, our countrymen, what your Air Force is and how it ticks,” its Editorial page read.
It was published under Colonel Miguel Ernesto Okol, the editor-in-chief, and also the Air Force spokesman. The editorial board consists of PAF Commanding General Lieutenant General Catalino dela Cruz, Vice Commander Major General Renato Lorenzo Sanchez and Brigadier General Gabriel Dimatatac.