Lorenzana prods Army officials to step up training, performance
MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday challenged senior military officials to step up their leadership as he devoted parts of his speech at an Army conference airing some of his frustrations in the organization.
Lorenzana, a retired Army general and highly-regarded leader by the top brass, was guest of honor and speaker at the conclusion of a two-day Army senior leaders’ conference in Taguig City.
With senior officers ranking from colonels to generals in attendance, the defense chief questioned the quality of Army’s training of soldiers on the ground.
He cited a Sulu encounter in November which left five Privates First Class and Corporals killed as well as the recent incident in Lanao del Sur where three soldiers went missing during an encounter with Islamic State-linked fighters – which seemed to have left him dissatisfied.
“I asked the people around me, ‘Where are the NCOs and the lieutenants?’ The question that comes to my mind is: Are we still training our small unit leaders the basic tactics of fighting, maneuver, cover fire, everything?”
He then turned a bit emotional as he expressed his frustration every time soldiers die on the field.
“It pains me to read in the reports that we lost people…we do not send people to die,” he said.
“This does not speak well of a well-organized organization. And I throw the challenge to you, senior leaders, to cascade down, the lessons down,” he also said.
The defense chief likewise recalled receiving complaints from ground troops about malfunctioning firearms in Sulu a few years back, prompting him to call for an investigation.
“Are we still teaching them to take care of their weapons? … The findings? The weapons were not maintained. Rusty. Ammunitions were also rusty. What’s happening, people?” he said.
“Recently, we found people selling ammunition to the black market. Are we not inspecting the ammunition of our people, individually? … When I was company commander, I would count them personally,” Lorenzana added.
Lobbying promotions, assignments
The defense chief further raised instances of senior officers seeking endorsements from politicians for their promotions and fast-tracking their advancements because of their impending retirement.
“I am really sad to note that, I don’t know if some of you are doing this, asking the favors of some politicians for endorsement. I get a lot of endorsements from politicians for promotion or assignment… Personally, when a person does that, I immediately conclude that he is not a competent person. Period. Hindi mo kaya, kaya nagpapatulong ka,” he said.
“And sometimes, people will fast-track their assignments, we call that ticket-punching,” he added.
Lorenzana also called out on officers who are manipulating their accomplishment reports to boost their records and earn a good impression from leaders.
“When I was a commander, I consider that offense as killable. I told my people do not lie to me. I’ll kill you. Tell me the truth and if there’s a need to tell a lie, I will tell the lie for you,” he said. /kga