Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Understanding Nation Building (Part 12)

On Military

Yesterday, we mentioned in Part 11, On International Relations, that a credible military force is an important tool in diplomatic initiatives and the preservation of our national territory. Today we continue with our analysis this time On Military based of course on the work, Blueprints for a Viable Philippines.

Blueprints says: The Situation: Since 1972, when Marcos declared martial law, the military has become increasingly politicized. This has led to demoralization, disunity, and corruption in the AFP. In the face of the incompetence and corruption of the civilian political leadership, more and more young officers and enlisted men are inclined to actively intervene in the nation’s governance.

BLUEPRINT Analysis: The only antidote to military intervention today is the stabilization and modernization of the institutions of governance. Young officers see themselves as agents of political modernization. Widespread corruption in government, mass poverty, and the mockery of the electoral process will make military intervention probable. But the military cannot be an effective instrument for social reform unless it is first reformed.

BLUEPRINT Recommendations: Purge the AFP of scalawags, and raise the salaries of soldiers to realistic levels. The AFP should be downsized into a lean and mean force, equipped with modern weaponry. Promoting the local manufacture of arms, ammunition, and communication and transport facilities will end dependence on the US in the quest for modernization. A strong Navy and Air Force shall be established. Instead of a Reservist Force, defense militias similar to the Swiss militias shall be organized in every community to complement the AFP.

Big Mango:

To understand the military today, it is important to look at the last twenty years. In 1986, Enrile and Ramos had camped out in Aguinaldo because they knew Marcos would have had them killed because of their own failed attempt at a power grab. They were prepared to die that day. Surprisingly enough, the call for a revolution came from Cardinal Sin and the various Religious who called to aid those in Aguinaldo. That was how we had a bloodless revolution.

We will not however tempting to proceed do an analysis on why Marcos fell, suffice to say ingredients were all ripe for the fall of that regime. What was done “properly” in those years was the establishment of a Revolutionary Government. Which paved the way for a new Constitution and the return to a more democratic regime.

When Estrada fell, it was likewise essentially a coup d'etat. But the mistake was not in admitting it as such because of various political reasons all of which led to instability, yet its price is where the nation is at the moment.

That said, the last twenty years has seen several attempts at a power grab by the Military none of which without the essential “Civilian” Component has been successful. Witness the failures of Honasan and the Oakwood Mutiny--- coup d'etat that all failed.

Why do you think it is expressively stated in the 1987 Constitution that “Civilian Authority is always Supreme over the Military”?

It is partly cultural--- the Filipino is not prone to violence unless provoked and partly because of generations' distasteful memory of the latter years of Martial Law. People fear the restrictions imposed during the Marcos era. While it is also true another reason for the distrust of people in the military is the rampant corruption within the higher echelon of the chain of command hence, unless the civilian component is part of it, no coup has been successful, so far.

While military takeovers are famous throughout history because they have the means, the capability and the skill it is very highly doubtful that it can be successful in the Philippines, unless certain ingredients are in place irregardless of the circumstances that Blueprints states: “widespread corruption in government, mass poverty, and the mockery of the electoral process”.

Military "adventuring" is probably what Blueprints may mean when they said that “The only antidote to military intervention today is the stabilization and modernization of the institutions of governance. Young officers see themselves as agents of political modernization” indeed, a sound “civilian” regime is needed to ensure that military officers do not become “agents of political modernization”. Though when one thinks about it, how highly capable do you think mid-level officers can be to pull of a coup without a genius running the show or support from higher power? Or rather perhaps, how flawed our society must surely be that such level of capability can ever wrestle power from more veteran hands.

Admittedly, at its weakest point--- our Military is of course in no position to be a rally point for change, with all branches seen as weak in technology, in arms, in capability and leadership.

Historically, we have been good soldiers, but never having a good armed force. We have never had a strong military presence even dating back to the birth of the first Republic. And this adds to our Military's weakness. Hence all these factors have helped form the hesitation to modernize our armed force even since.

Blueprints' recommendation to raise the cost of living for Soldiers is an important first step and as such it must form an important part of any modernization effort, we must of course ask ourselves where the money will come from and perhaps it can be shoe stringed properly over the course of years.

To build a proper military, we must ask ourselves, what kind of threats are we facing? 1) we have an insurgency problem, 2) we have revolutionists in Mindanao, 3) we have piracy in the high seas, 4) we need to defend our national territory--- air and sea 5) port patrol and lastly 6) terrorists.

On the insurgency problem, there really is no pressing need to deploy a military force to engage them when police may be enough to suppress lawlessness in the more far away provinces of our Republic but should be supported by a Marine Corps that has the ability to be rapidly deployed.

With regard to revolutionists in Mindanao, we may have to focus building Armies to engage them properly and the political will to wipe them out today. The Philippine Army and Marine Corps are perhaps the better trained of the armed services having engaged in active warfare for years now. They're good soldiers needing good equipment and the doctrine to meet those challenges.

The Marine Corps should be lean, mean fighting machine. We need to provide them with all weather aircraft, and the ability to for rapid deployment and quick strike--- in land, sea and air. This is likewise important to provide support for the insurgency--- in urban, jungle, conventional and bio-warfare.

We don't have many flat terrain--- thus far we'll probably need just a few heavy divisions of tanks and the rest made up of artillery support for the army. The rest we could probably be mechanized infantry supported by helicopter air power and trained up in urban, jungle, conventional and bio warfare.

The Air Force will need better aircraft. Buy Tomcats or F-15s or Migs (those are all 30 year old planes or thereabouts, in case you are wondering) or any modern multi-role, all weather aircraft (though it would be preferable if multi-role aircraft could be shared across the services). We have good pilots, we just need to give them the tools to do their job. Support them with the infrastructure--- tankers, and complete radar coverage of the Philippines (which is also important for civilian air traffic not to mention weather forecasting). We also need to beef up our UAVs to support infantry and give the Air Force additional fighting capability. The Air Force should be able to provide rapid transport for all the services and likewise to provide excellent logistics capability to support the other services.

The Navy--- we would need to have at least two Battle Groups and lots of submarines (maybe as much as 12 to support the entire country). The Navy need no have to be able to guard the entire coastline--- thats where extensive submarine sonar/sensor networks will be useful. And these ships and infrastructure can be utilized for other scientific endeavors. Navies after all are offensive weapons, coastal defenses should be left to a well armed and disciplined Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard will need extensive Air support for light attack and heavy rescue as well as ships that are light attack but strong enough to defend against piracy in our seas and to patrol our long coastline. The Coast Guard should also be given Police powers and roles--- to help defend our Ports--- Air and Sea. They should be the command to look after those ports and not another branch.

Terrorists are of course the main enemy of our time. It is a combination of good intelligence gathering, of police and of military might that will crush them and of course other means at the disposal of a nation. And when it comes down to human and electronic (signals and cipher making and crushing) capabilities, none of which is available to us.

The Presidential Security Command--- a Joint Command should likewise have limited capabilities in urban, and biowarfare fighting as much as to protect the President. They are modern day Praetorian Guards after all.

There should be a National Operations Center--- a central command and control (and crisis) management center where every asset can be monitored, and deployed. Likewise a National Crisis Center can also coordinate with Civil Command--- when crisis of the national disaster sort can come striking which must include Weather forecasting, Tsunami Monitoring, Geological Disasters, Flooding and Relief Management.

Our current doctrine of reservists dates back to World War II, under the guidance of General McArthur. It is sixty years overdue for a change. Though Blueprints probably doesn't get it--- successful battles can be won with excellent Logistics capability, with extensive intelligence gathering capabilities, with a well trained Armed Forces, as much as well equipped soldiers, force composition, and command and control. All of these have been proven time and again as essential factors in winning a war--- the Israelis, the Americans have all been successful with this kind of doctrine.

There are of course new weapon systems coming online--- lasers and energy shields (and no this is not fiction, it is real and should come online in a few years) that planers for a modernization program should look into and integrated into new fighting doctrine.

We need to develop new war doctrine--- for invasions, for terrorist attacks, for so many other crisis and to train extensively for that. And whether or not videogames will be useful and cost effective in the long term should be taken into account by mission planners. The important thing is that training is the soldiers' way of life.

There should be militia--- for young people to learn good discipline and to support the needs of various provinces in time of national crisis such as national disasters. They should be supported by those regions or provinces. And their doctrine should fit what the would most likely meet. For example, Metropolitan Manila will need militia to support the armed forces in the event of a terrorist attack--- that means they may serve as Military Police, they may serve in Urban Warfare or Biohazard Containment and Warfare.

Do we really need to build a defense industry establishment? For the sake of supply and cost reduction--- those things should be looked into. But the American Navy for example funds its own defense contractors, though those contractors are private and civilian. For example, Electric Boat--- builders of the US Navy ships make a living building for the US Navy and without those contracts, they will be out of business tomorrow. Can the Philippine Government afford that?

Warfare as you can see is a science and an art. It is very serious business and it will require years to build, money to transform it and the Filipino's resolve to make a credible modern and true armed forces. The Filipino is not military minded enough. But that can be changed with the right attitude. But to fear the AFP, to think that it can usurp power, it will be hard pressed to do so and will require certain ingredients to be in place and admittedly may not be as bad as one might think, if that is the only way to instill order, rule of law and discipline in this country. At the end of the day, it will take money to build and maintain an army, the question should, is the Philippines willing to do so and to what extent?


Anonymous said...

for saying that the removal of erap in 2001 was actually a coup de etat, i salute you. the same circumstances still prevail today. any change in the country's leadership can only be effected through military intervention. the civilian side, mostly do-gooders from the ngo sector, had overblown self-praise for what happened. they took too much credit and called it people power. fvr, the man who had the most benefit from both edsa movements, loudly proves time and again that military might is the key to power. more than ever, in coming to the side of gma after the do-gooders have moved to the other side, fvr proves this point.

my reservations on the goodness of an active military in the general interactions of a democratic nation have always run deep. retirees from the afp have no training in raising capital, as they are provided for in the national budget. "comply before you complain" is not compatible with free exchange of ideas. those with hope in understanding protocols, say, in the corporate world, have long left the service and their children never joined. sadly too most of them have surrendered to the helplessness of the nation's sovereignty situation vis-a-vis american interests. when ramos herded the top brass from the president who was the military's kindest commander in chief of all time, he banked heavily on the perception that he is the top amboy. with erap's genuine regard for the foot soldier, what fvr did was truly one for the books.

too much emphasis, though, has been given to the military. the real power, is actually in the civil servants. organization, once carried out, will awaken this sleeping giant. when men in uniform shift loyalties, administrations fall. when the civil servants in unison decide to shift loyalties, the nation comes to a grinding halt.

that day will come.

Greg said...

I was there in EDSA during EDSA 2. At that time, I believed in the righteousness of the cause and I knew it was the right thing to do.

But as early as 2003, I began to have doubts. Even if I abhor Erap - -he was legitimately elected - - and the impeachment was and is a political process. When it “failed” (and even the term “failed” was a subjective characterization), there were other means to resolve it - - - such as - - -booting out the Pro-Erap senators in the 2001 Senatorial Elections (which was just 4 months away) and filing a new impeachment complaint in October 2001 (or a year after the first one was filed).

Interestingly, I have seen more people writing in the blogs and in the papers expressing this sentiment.

Among them are the following:

1. Stepping On Poop Blog:

He wrote a good one entitled - "Revolution as Religious Revelation" where he expresses the uncomfortable realization that EDSA 2 was a mistake.

2. Inquirer Columnist Raul Pangalangan (my favorite Inquirer columnist) has expressed the same opinion in many of his articles. He was also an amicus curiae to the Supreme Court in one of the cases dealing with Gloria's legitimacy as president.

Here's a quote from his May 19, 2005 article entitled "Coups and Karmic Justice:" - - -"That was the real tragedy at Edsa II: we did not let our institutions do their work. That is why it was necessary to demonize Joseph Estrada, to tell everyone, "Hey, guys, he's so bad, it's all right to cut corners." Don't you find it significant that the term "legal gobbledygook" entered the Filipino lexicon during the impeachment trial? The real problem then is that the ghosts of Edsa II have returned to haunt us today; it is karma catching up on us."

3. Lastly, check out the last paragraph of the September 12, 2005fInquirer editorial entitled "Staying Put":

"In the depths of the current political crisis," we wrote two months ago, 'we must be careful not to tempt the armed services to leave the barracks and rush into the public square. How do we do that? By containing the crisis within the constitutional process.'

Has last Tuesday's equally unfortunate vote in Congress exhausted the constitutional remedies? Hardly. There are petitions to be filed before the Supreme Court; motions to be made in the House of Representatives; perhaps, investigations to be conducted in the Senate. Above all, there is the prospect of a more solid impeachment case next year, and beyond that, the people's judgment in the next vote.

It's a whole lot of work; thankfully, none of it needs to be done by the military."

In my opinion, if it can be done now - - it sure could have been done before (i.e., during Erap's impeachment). Certainly a long cut - - - but that long cut would strengthen the institutions.

Nonetheless, EDSA 2 happened. And let's accept the fact that it happened. So I am not advocating for the return of Erap. His term is up. Now that we're dealing with the Gloria controversy, let's use EDSA 2 as an example and not allow things to get out of hand like it did in EDSA 2. Boot her if we must but not at all costs.

I think Filipinos are becoming more mature in the appreciation of their rights/obligations in a democracy. So I am glad to read posts which express similar sentiments.

Greg said...

One more thing . . .

I took the liberty of mentioning about your website to other bloggers whose sites I visit.

One of them is this fellow:

Interestingly, he checked out your blog and mentions it in his latest post.

More power to bloggers like you guys.

You may also want to check out this blogger who also has forward looking views:

It's a blog by Rhoelano Briones, an economist.

Maybe you guys should form some kind of bloggers' think tank for the Philippines. :-)

cocoy said...

wow thank you very much for posting your comments!

i'm opening up the links that you guys have posted in here. and those that i can't read right now, i'm bookmarking. :)

so far, i've read that article from stepping on poop (revolution as religious revelation). he does undertand it. we have made a mess of things... but i think the way out of this mess is constitutional change (we start from zero again, a reboot) or someone takes charge, a hardline choice in this case pgma leaves when her term expires in 2010 or a revolution happens that reboots us.

and the econ blog is also excellent! :D thanks for the links!

bloggers' think tank? do you have some ideas? if you do, my email address (with my name on it) is at the bottom of my blog, please email me your ideas.