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AFP aims for 70% capability vs internal threats

By Joel Guinto
First Posted 16:13:00 07/15/2008

Filed Under: Armed conflict, Military, Security (general)

MANILA, Philippines -- The military is aiming to achieve a 70-percent capability against internal security threats when it completes the second phase of its P33-billion revised Capability Upgrade Program (CUP), which will see the purchase of more mobility assets, a top military official said.

This year, the military is set to receive 20 watercraft for the Army and at least two for the Marines, worth around P90 million, that will be used to maneuver through swamps and marshlands, said Major General Gilbert Llanto, deputy chief of staff for plans of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The military will also bid out a P980-million contract for two to three light lift aircraft to replace its decades-old fleet of Nomad planes, Llanto told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

"If we will be able to acquire the equipment as specified in phase 1 and phase 2, for a total of P33 billion, we can improve our capability to a level of 70 percent based on our capability assessment," Llanto said.

Before the deliveries of P11.7-billion worth of "shoot-move-communicate" equipment under the first phase of the revised CUP in 2007, Llanto said the military's self-rated capability against internal threat groups was only 30 percent.

Phase two of the CUP will cost P22.2 billion, but only P5 billion was allotted this year, he said.

"We audit the capability of our troops based on the threat as defined by our intelligence elements, spearheaded by J2 and the staff. So, from that capability assessment, we can adapt how fit we are in offsetting the threats," he said.

The J2 is the deputy AFP chief of staff for intelligence, a position currently held by Rear Admiral Leonardo Calderon.

"We saw [that] our inability to lick the ISO [internal security operations] elements is grounded mainly on [the] deficient mobility assets that we have; then our shoot capability firepower are already outmoded," Llanto said.

Llanto said P4 billion worth of high security communication equipment, which was bought during phase one, would be delivered this year.

Phase one also saw the procurement of squad automatic rifles, night-capable equipment, and communications systems, he said.

The CUP is the first phase, or "horizon," of the military's modernization program, and is aimed at defeating internal security threats.

It began in 2004 and will run until 2010, the end of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's term.

Arroyo has also set the end of her term as the deadline for security forces to "defeat" the New People?s Army, "destroy" Islamic extremist groups like the Abu Sayyaf and the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), and contain the Moro rebellion.

Llanto said each of the three horizons of the modernization program is tied to the six-year terms of three presidents from Arroyo, to ensure policy continuity.

Horizon two, from 2010 to 2016, will see the transition to external defense, while horizon three, from 2016 to 2022, will see the military building up its territorial defense capability.

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