Brawner: Cyber defense equipment part of AFP modernization’s 3rd phase
MANILA, Philippines — The third phase of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization program will include the acquisition of more equipment that will bolster the military’s cyber defense, according to its chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr.
Brawner said this equipment will be for AFP’s Cyber Group which protects the military organization from attacks on its systems.
“We are also including more equipment for the Horizon 3 of the modernization program that will contribute to that strengthening of our cyber defenses,” he said in an ambush interview in Manila.
Aside from this, the AFP modernization’s Horizon 3 — slated from 2023 to 2028 — prioritizes the achievement of a self-reliant defense posture program, bringing in more sophisticated equipment such as fighter planes and ships.
Implemented from 2013 to 2017, the program’s Horizon 1 stage resulted in the acquisition of Del Pilar-class frigates and FA-50PH light-lift interim fighters, among others.
Horizon 2 was implemented in 2018 which led to the acquisition of P300 billion worth of multiple launch rocket systems, light tanks, armored recovery vehicles, multi-role fighter aircraft, frigates, and submarines.
Cyber Command proposed
On top of this, Brawner said the AFP plans to upgrade its Cyber Group into a Cyber Command.
Unlike the unified area commands which exercise operational control over AFP units of all services deployed in their regions, the planned Cyber Command will cover the whole country as it will only defend the cyber networks of AFP, according to Brawner.
“The Cyber Command we are envisioning will not be as big as an area command,” Brawner said, adding it “will have the whole archipelago as its territory because it will defend the cyber networks of the AFP, not the entire country.”
Brawner also said, “We are envisioning to add more equipment, add more facilities to the Cyber Command. It will also provide command and control over all the cyber units that we have in the AFP.
“As of now, we have islands, pockets of cybersecurity units. What we need is to integrate all of these efforts,” he added.
Brawner also said the AFP is also looking to recruit “cyber warriors.”
He also noted these cyber warriors will undergo different recruitment processes.
“Because we will be looking for talented and skilled individuals, they may not be necessarily competent to pass our regular recruitment processes. So, medyo magrerelax tayo konti (we will relax a little bit).”
The AFP has been hounded with cyberattacks by foreign and local hackers “almost every day,” but their attempts were not successful, according to Brawner.
AFP’s computer system was also hacked in 2021, which led to the reported leak of files on the dark web, according to the top military official.
However, Brawner said the leaked files were “old” and not “sensitive” to the country’s national security.