On its 122nd anniversary, PH Navy lists lessons COVID-19 taught so far
MANILA, Philippines—The COVID-19 pandemic has taught lessons to governments and leaders worldwide.
For the Philippine Navy, which is among military units on the frontline of the battle against the disease, it was a chance to revisit systems and procedures.
Flag Officer in Command Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo discussed the lessons that the Navy has learned so far during its 122nd anniversary.
1. Recruit, develop and give specialty to fit and bright Navy men
Bacordo stressed the need to invest in human resource. After all, the Navy’s most important assets are its sailors, Marines, civilian employees and reservists.
“Like what we saw during the past months—from the eruption of Taal Volcano to the looming Middle East crisis to the spread of this coronavirus disease —the increasingly fast-paced nature of these operations requires our personnel to demonstrate readiness and resilience in the face of stressful environments,” he said.
“Indeed, health is wealth. A healthy, fit and intelligent Navy man is imperative in maintaining optimal physical performance for success in modern warfare,” he said.
2. Sustained good coordination as key to successful civil military operations (CMO)
“As we were tasked with helping in the government’s efforts to contain this virus, we need good coordination with government agencies, local governments, foreign governments and local people to allow us to discharge our functions effectively and efficiently,” Bacordo said.
He said a good CMO also improves the mobility of troops and allows the use of critical lines of communications that facilitate quick and relevant inter-island movements.
3. Improving efficiency by maximum use of technology
Like everyone else, the pandemic had so far driven policymakers and the military to rely on technology. But this also highlighted the need for secure technology.
“We need to maximize the use of technology while assuring the security of information systems. As a result of the observance of social distancing, planners and operators are communicating through video teleconferencing and phone calls instead of personal meetings,” Bacordo said.
“This can be good in the long run, as we learn to develop more robust plans for conducting trainings and events with the use of secure IT systems,” he said.
4. Identifying priorities
May 2020 was supposed to be a big month for the Philippine Navy. Aside from celebrating its 122nd anniversary, the Navy was supposed to host, for the first time, the Western Pacific Naval Symposium and the International Fleet Review—both international events.
“When the virus outbreak spread around the globe, military leaders from participating units in combined military exercises postponed and cancelled events. Such is the case in our holding of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium and the International Fleet Review,” Bacordo said.
“Because our limited resources were dedicated to the COVID-19 response, we prioritized the activities that we need to conduct, so that we can still support the fund and logistical requirements of our maritime operations,” he said.
5. Develop self-reliance in naval shipbuilding
The pandemic had also threatened to affect the sustainability of the Navy’s maritime operations, Bacordo said.
“As work and business were temporarily locked down, so were shipyards that maintain and repair our ships,” he said.
Because of the health crisis, the Navy’s anniversary was unlike previous years’—an elaborate ceremony usually attended by the President. The event at the Navy headquarters on Wednesday (May 20) was attended only by selected officers and men. Other Navy units joined the event through video teleconferencing.
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