Marcos Aims to Transform Philippine Army into a “Multi-Mission-Ready” Force

WOMEN ON TOP Three women of the Philippine Army (PA) pose atop one of its tanks as they and the rest of the troops put on a show of the PA’s defense capabilities on its 127th anniversary in Capas, Tarlac, on Friday, March 22, 2024. Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. (not in photo) delivered the speech on behalf of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who was unable to attend for health reasons. PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN
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President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s commitment to transforming the Philippine Army

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s commitment to transforming the Philippine Army into a multi-mission-ready, cross-domain, and capable force reflects his dedication to ensuring the country’s sovereignty and security. During the army’s 127th anniversary celebration in Tarlac, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. read President Marcos’ speech, which outlined the government’s vision for a modernized Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Enhancing morale, efficiency, and responsiveness

President Marcos emphasized the importance of enhancing the army’s morale, efficiency, and responsiveness through continuous capacity-building initiatives. This includes investing in rigorous training and education activities to equip soldiers with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively carry out their duties. Additionally, the president highlighted the need for the army to engage in other meritorious pursuits that would further strengthen their capabilities.

Bolstering cybersecurity capabilities

Recognizing the changing nature of warfare in the digital age, President Marcos urged the army to bolster its cybersecurity capabilities. With cyber threats becoming increasingly prevalent, it is crucial for the army to develop robust defenses to protect the country’s critical infrastructure and information systems. By adopting lessons learned from joint operations and interactions with other major services of the AFP and foreign defense counterparts, the army can stay updated on the latest strategies and technologies in cybersecurity.

Building a “Bagong Pilipinas”

President Marcos’ commitment to transforming the Philippine Army is part of his broader vision for a “Bagong Pilipinas” or a new Philippines. This vision encompasses not only a modernized military but also a country that is economically prosperous, socially just, and politically stable. By investing in the army’s capabilities and ensuring its readiness to respond to threats, President Marcos aims to build a strong and secure nation that can effectively address the challenges of the 21st century.

Territorial disputes in the South China Sea

As tensions continue to escalate in the South China Sea, the territorial disputes between the Philippines and China have become increasingly complex. The strategic importance of the region, which is rich in natural resources and serves as a major shipping route, has intensified the competition for control among neighboring countries.

Protecting Philippine interests

President Marcos’s focus on military and coast guard operations reflects the Philippines’ determination to protect its interests in the disputed waters. By supplying troops at remote outposts and providing escort to fishermen, the government aims to assert its sovereignty and ensure the safety of its citizens who rely on these waters for their livelihood.

Strengthening alliances and partnerships

The president’s efforts to deepen cooperation with the United States are driven by the need for a strong ally in the face of Chinese aggression. While President Marcos has clarified that the Philippines is not intentionally provoking conflict or acting under the command of the US, he recognizes the growing threat posed by China’s assertive actions in the West Philippine Sea.

In addition to strengthening ties with the United States, President Marcos has pursued closer relationships with other key allies. The Philippines has upgraded its relations with Australia, signing defense pacts that enhance cooperation in areas such as intelligence sharing and joint military exercises. Similar agreements have been reached with the United Kingdom and Canada, further expanding the country’s network of strategic partnerships.

Furthermore, negotiations are underway for a mutual military visitation agreement with Japan. This agreement would allow for regular exchanges between the armed forces of both countries, fostering greater cooperation and coordination in addressing shared security concerns.

Diplomatic efforts and peaceful resolution

President Marcos’s refusal to accept China’s claims in the South China Sea has presented numerous challenges for the Philippines. The basis of China’s claims lies in a 1947 map that shows a vague “nine-dash line” encompassing a significant portion of the area. However, in 2016, a United Nations tribunal ruled against Beijing’s claims, a verdict that the Chinese government has adamantly rejected.

Despite the ongoing standoff, President Marcos remains committed to diplomatic efforts and continues to engage in talks with Beijing. He recognizes the importance of avoiding a situation where the Philippines has to invoke its defense treaty with the United States. The president understands the risks and dangers associated with invoking the treaty, as it could potentially lead to a dangerous and slippery road.

Commitment to safeguarding sovereignty

In his address, President Marcos took the opportunity to commend the officers and enlisted personnel of the Philippine Army for their unwavering dedication and commitment to serving the nation. He acknowledged their crucial role in safeguarding the stability and sovereignty of the country.

Source: The Manila Times

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